Legacy’s Black Box Shows Brazil’s Control Tower Made a Mistake

Transcripts from the Legacy’s black box reveal that the São José dos Campos, São Paulo, air control tower authorized the small jet’s American pilots to fly at 37,000 feet through Manaus, capital of the state of Amazonas, Brazil.

Coming from the opposite direction at the same altitude was a Brazilian Boeing 737. The collision between the two planes ended up causing Brazil’s worst ever air accident with 154 people falling to their death into the Amazon jungle.

The new revelation published in today’s Folha de S. Paulo gives credence to Joe Lepore and Jean Paladin, the two American pilots of the Legacy, who have claimed from the start that they had such an authorization.

The authorization from São José dos Campos, the city where the brand new Legacy was bought, was just the first in a series of mistakes that would culminate into the crash, including communication failure with the Brasí­lia tower and the Legacy’s transponder’s malfunction.

According to the original flight plan, the Legacy should fly at 37,000 feet from São José dos Campos to Brazilian capital Brasí­lia, then drop to 36,000 feet till Mato Grosso state and from them on maintain a 38,000-feet altitude through Manaus.

The Legacy’s black box, which is being examined by Brazil’s Aeronautical Accidents Investigation and Prevention National Center  shows, according to the Folha de S. Paulo, that the São José dos Campos air controller talked to Lepore and Paladin while authorizing them to take off.

The recorded dialogue shows that they were told to ascend to 37,000 and keep that altitude through the Eduardo Gomes airport, in Manaus. At take off Lepore identified his aircraft and soon after indicated he had reached the 37,000 feet.

When the controller asked him to turn on the transponder he just followed the instruction. Brasí­lia’s Air Traffic Control center, the Cindacta 1, however, says that the transponder wasn’t working when the Legacy flew over Brasí­lia.

In the tape obtained by the newspaper, the pilots say that they hadn’t been able to contact the tower and that they would follow the orders they had received from the São José dos Campos control tower.

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