Former Brazilian Justice Minister Hired to Defend US Pilots Involved in Boeing Crash

ExcelAire, the American company that bought the Legacy jet, the aircraft that ended up causing Brazil’s worst air accident ever, with 155 dead, has retained a former Brazilian Justice Minister to represent it in a court of law if necessary.

The Yankee firm has also hired a communication agency in Brazil to defend it in the court of public opinion. The public-relations firm Burson-Marsteller has  already announced that it will soon release a statement with the ExcelAire’s official position in the case.

The Law Offices of José Carlos Dias, Minister of Justice during the Fernando Henrique Cardoso administration, will be in charge of the juridical area.

ExcelAire says it is afraid it will become a "scapegoat" in the case. The American company fears its pilots will be subject to a trial by press while it doesn’t have ways to defend itself.

Dias has already called the current Justice Minister, Márcio Thomaz Bastos, who is an old friend of his and also talked to the chief of the Federal Police, Paulo Lacerda. His intention was to smooth some rough edges in the case and to say that his clients are ready to give any additional explanation.

Joe Lepore and Jan Paladin, the two pilots, have had their passports confiscated while the Brazilian authorities try to figure out if they in any criminal way have contributed to the collision with Gol’s Flight 1907.

Lepore and Paladin, according to reports in the Brazilian media are furious at the news that present them as guilty for the accident. They have been screaming their innocence saying that they never pushed any button that might have turned off the jet’s transponder.

It has been suggested by investigators that the pilots might have turned off the equipment in order to evade detection by the Brazilian air traffic control and maybe fly faster or practice some daring maneuver.

It’s the transponder that sends air control all the plane’s data and also activates the anti collision system. Investigators have found that the transponder was off when the collision occurred.

This might be due to a mechanical problem, but the experts point out that the equipment was working  when the plane took off from its Embraer manufacturer in São José dos Campos  and worked again after the crash with the Boeing.

Both pilots have also complained about communications during their flight mainly in the Serra do Cachimbo where the accident happened. They say they tried unsuccessfully several times to contact air control.

Joe Sharkey, the New York Times journalist who was aboard, has already said that they had to find a place to land using maps since they weren’t able to get any help from air control.

Lepore and Paladin have already given three depositions: one to the Mato Grosso police, another to officials at the Serra do Cachimbo Air Base where they landed and still a third one to air accident experts in Rio de Janeiro. They cannot leave the country and might be arrested any minute if they are found guilty by the investigations taking place right now.

Investigator say they still have four main questions: 1) Why the Legacy’s transponder was turned off? 2) Why did it start working again soon after the collision? 3) Why did the pilots not follow the flight plan, that called for an altitude change from 37,000 feet to 36,000 feet from Brasí­lia on and finally; 4) Why was there a breakdown in communications between the Legacy and the Cindacta-1, the Brasí­lia’s control center?


  • Show Comments (6)

  • to dah !

    please review your sources…….
    … should know that in the tragedy…..the transponder was made in the USA
    … should know that last year, the USA refused Brazil to sell planes to Venezuela, because they contained American technology.
    ….that all the engines are of foreign technologies.

    This is just to name a few !

    Finally on lighter note : you have probably read that Embraer just signed a US$ 1 billion contract for planes that will be sold to Northwest Airlines ! Correct ?

    Of course…it is correct ! Be proud !

    What has been hidden to you is that Northwest Airlines is under the chapter 11 of the U.S.A. BANKRUPTCY LAW !!!!! laugh !

    Therefore the deal is everything but a sure deal !

  • Guest

    What a silly! Everybody knows Brazil’s aircraft technology is awarded and entirelly national. A pilot who doesn’t know it..! eyes rolling what an you fill in

  • Stephen

    Comments re Hmmm
    Well sir, thank you… your detail is a breath of fresh air.! Thank god someone still has an open mind and if your look at past postings of Sr.Neves he is consistent with unfactual and biased opinion.. By the way, Embraer just makes the shells of the aircraft, the technology is American and Canadian. Like buying a Brazilian bus, the body made in Brazil, but the techno is Volvo or Mercedes.

  • Guest

    Plane Crash
    If the crash was caused by the two pilots ignoring air traffic control. The pilots should be arrested, and charged with second degree murder. It is as simple as that.

  • Guest

    Harsh with Brazilians and smooth with Americans. No wonder they hate you so much!

    Viva Palestine! Viva Libanon! Viva Iraq! Down with America! Dow with Israel!

  • Hmmm

    “the aircraft that ended up CAUSING Brazil’s worst air accident ever”

    “The Yankee firm “

    Nope, no bias in this article. Is it any wonder that the pilots want a fair investigation, and not be tried by Anti-US scribble-hacks in the Brazilian courts of public opinion?

    Let the investigation unfurl, there maybe be more surprises soonest.

    And by the way it is Burson-MaRsteller NOT Burson-Masteller. Simple errors like this give you no cred when trying to already assail blame in a far more complicted issue.

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