According to Globo TV network’s Jornal Nacional, Brazil’s most traditional prime-time news show, the Legacy jet that collided with the Boeing 737, provoking the worst air tragedy ever in Brazil, didn’t follow its flight plan and was at the wrong altitude when it hit the Boeing with 154 people aboard.
Globo says that its reporters were shown the original flight plan for the Legacy jet, which was flown by two American pilots, Joseph Lepore and Jan Paladin, who were taking the plane to the United States.
They left from São José dos Campos, in the interior of São Paulo, the city where the brand new jet had been manufactured by Embraer.
According to the flight plan, the corporate jet should have kept an altitude of 37,000 feet from São José dos Campos to Brazilian capital Brasília.
From Brasília on the plane should have descended to 36,000 feet and then once again change to 38,000 feet 513 km later or 307 km before the crash.
The plane, however, according to Globo kept always an altitude of 37,000 feet placing it on the path of Gol’s Boeing 737.
To the Brazilian authorities the American pilots have insisted that they just complied with the flight plan. The document obtained by Globo, however, suggests that the pilots have lied to the investigators. Had they followed the flight plan they would be flying at 38,000 feet and no collision would have happened.
The pilots say they didn’t change their altitude because they lost contact with traffic control. The Jornal Nacional noted, however, that they hadn’t followed instructions before, when they passed through Brasília. At that time, they should have then lowered their altitude. There is no information that there was any problem of communication then.
José Carlos Pereira, the president of Infraero, the Brazilian aviation authority, compared the pilots action to a driver who is speeding the wrong way, crashes head on into another car, then get out of the car and blames the traffic cop for the accident.
‘The pilot, the ultimate authority inside a plane, knows very well when he is flying in the right or the wrong way of an airway," says Pereira.
The airways, he explains, are like avenues, with previously established directions by the traffic laws. Between Manaus and Brasília the odd-numbered altitudes are only used by planes flying in a north-sound direction while the even-numbered one are for those flying in the opposite direction.
For Infraero’s chief, for being at an altitude of 37,000 feet the Legacy’s pilots were automatically in the wrong way.