Brazil Admits ‘Imprecision’ But Doesn’t Exonerate US Pilots from Blame

The Brazilian Air Force confirmed that the São José dos Campos’s air control tower authorized the Legacy jet to fly at an altitude of 37.000 feet, which ended up causing Brazil’s worst accident ever, with 154 deaths.

Brazilian authorities, however, don’t call their mistake an error but just an imprecision. And their admission doesn’t exonerate the American pilots who flew the Legacy from blame. 

"N600XL. Clear, 370, Manaus." These were the precise words used by the São José dos Campos flight controller to authorize the Legacy’s take off on its maiden flight to the United States, on September 29. According to Brazilian Air Force officers, these instructions were not wrong, but could have been more precise.

Whatever the instructions, they contend, they should have been checked against the flight plan by the American pilots. As an unnamed officer from FAB (Brazilian Air Force) told O Estado:

"The controller should have said ‘as filed’ or ‘according to flight plan’ at the end of his sentence. A Brazilian pilot would have understood perfectly this order. But the American might have gotten confused, inferring that he could fly at 37,000 feet through Manaus. Every pilot knows that when you change flight direction you also change your altitude. To say that he misunderstood is just a way to escape responsibility." 

New reports show that Joseph Lepore and Jan Paul Palladino contacted the Brasí­lia air control tower (Cindacta 1) when they were 58 miles from the Brazilian capital. At the time they had the following dialogue with the flight controllers:

"N600XL reaches 370. Good Afternoon", says the Legacy pilot, informing that he is at 37,000 feet. The controller answers saying, "N600XL activate your identity." The code appears on the control center’s monitor. The controller then informs: "Under radar surveillance".

Also according to O Estado, soon after the Boeing accident over the Amazon jungle, the flight controller who assisted the Legacy’s take off in São José dos Campos, a sergeant-major with 30 years of experience in the field, was so shaken by the tragedy that he asked for a leave of absence.


  • Show Comments (7)

  • Rick

    The American pilots can neither rent nor drive a car legally without a passport.

  • Icann Rules

    Radar, at any significant range, does not offer good atitude data. It is just the mathematics. That is why the transponder is used.

  • A. Castro

    The americans pilots can order a big help of the USA General Consulate in Rio de Janeiro, to walk and shopping in Rio’s downtown and others town’s sites.
    They can rent and drive a car, go to the beach, to restaurants, safe if the USA Consulate can put two or more man (guard) to watch then and keep they lives safe of some “mob” until brazilians authorities will release their passports.
    Why Not?
    If by finaly they are not blame, and they will go back home, the USA Consulate can fee the brazilian authorities to pay for the guard service and the Mariott Hotel account!
    We must to be patient!

  • Rick

    You miss the point. Something is working. The spin machine is spooling up. Damage control is working overtime. What they have come up with is pretty good considering the hand they were dealt. They wonÀ‚´t comvince the pros, but their focus group is the general public. In politics, perception is reality. O contribuinte pode ficar satisfeito….an A for effort….

  • Professor

    Ordem and Expresso
    Now begins the “jeitinho brasileiro”…………

    In the end no one from the ATC will be blamed, they are of course in
    Physiological rehabilitation..
    The American pilots will not be blamed, but they will leave enough doubt
    in the population that it was the Americans fault.
    Meanwhile making a gesture of “Amizade ” by letting the Americans go home.

    Win win situation Brazil 2, U.S. 0.

    Brazilian mentality has defeated the estrangeiros and won over the population who believes 2 goals are worth more than reality itself.

  • ch.c.

    ….just re-read the above transcript :

    The controller then informs: “Under radar surveillance”.

    Where was/what did the radar surveillance……just before the accident, and if under radar surveillance, why the ATC did not notice the US pilots were still at 37000 feet ?
    Did they try to contact the US pilots ? If yessss…..more details are needed ! If not…why ? and if yes and provided there was a problem with the transponder, why have the radio not been used ? And if the plane was under radar surveillance and assuming no contact was possible for whatever reason, why the Boeing pilots were not informed by the ATC and given the instructions to change the route or the height… avoid an eventual crash with the plane that could ne be contacted ???????

    I tell you once more : IT DOESNT SMELL GOOD AT ALL !!!!!!
    After the repeated open accusations against the US pilots……while the authorities knew well before who those responsible were….they only hoped…that the black box
    would either not be found in the Amazon, or being in such a bad state, that the recording would have not been possible….to avoid incriminating the Brazilians ATCs !

    Fortunately the box was found, and the tape not destroyed !!!!!
    Fortunately too that it was not the responsibility of the Brazilian authorities
    to translate the discussion that was recorded !!!!!

    No doubt that the authorities have a lot of backstage and hidden meetings to find out how they could still either put 100 % of the blame to the US pilots, or at least share the blame….in view of all their previous accusations.

    But no doubt that the Justice will prevail, despite those who are doing everything to hide the sad reality !

  • ch.c.

    ….that Brazilian authorities are not willing to accept the judgment, not yet done anyway, using World experts (TO NOT BE ONE SIDED) the effective, detailed and specific International laws governing the area of aviation !

    Just as they accused openly….before the end of the investigations…that the US pilots
    were those reponsible of the accident, now before even having the opinion from the only recognized experts in this subject…..they already want to either share the blame….or eventually still accuse the US pilots !

    The exact same thing happened last year in your FMD cattle disease ! First they accused openly and incorrectly the cattles from Uruguay, then they accused the Brazilian farmers as those responsible, and finally the Brazilian Government accepted the blame……BECAUSE IT WAS THEM WHO DID NOT FREE UP the money for sanitation, despite it was budgeted !!!!!!! Of course…..initially they even said that the money was freed until they recognized it was NOT !!!!!!!!
    Everyone can re-read all these sequences in the articles published and accusations and statements made Brazilian Authorities…ON THIS SITE !!!!!!

    What a shame, what a shame. Really a bunch of crooks, liars and junkies !!!!!!!!!

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