US Pilots and ExcelAire Sued in New York for Brazilian Air Tragedy

Another American law firm, this time, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, announced they are filing a lawsuit today against ExcelAire and Honeywell International, in a New York federal court.

The US lawyers are representing family members of ten passengers on Gol Airlines Flight 1907 who were killed after the aircraft collided with an aircraft owned and operated by ExcelAire. Honeywell is the manufacturer of the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), a device that should have avoided such a crash.

One hundred and forty eight passengers and six crew members died on September 29, 2006, when the Gol Airlines aircraft plunged nose-first into the Amazon rainforest after colliding with the ExcelAire aircraft. The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages against ExcelAire and Honeywell for their negligence.

"Although official investigations of the Gol Airlines tragedy are ongoing, sufficient evidence presently exists to allege that negligence by ExcelAire and Honeywell were substantial factors contributing to the fatal collision," stated Robert L. Lieff, founding partner of Lieff Cabraser.

Brazilian attorney Leonardo Amarante, whose law firm is working in partnership with Lieff Cabraser, commented, "The families of this horrible tragedy are asserting their rights under United States law against ExcelAire and Honeywell to ensure that all facts surrounding the accident are uncovered and that such a disaster is never repeated."

Nigel Taylor, an attorney with Lieff Cabraser based in London and one of the most experienced aviation law attorneys in the world, according to the law firm, stated, "This lawsuit holds out great hope for the victims’ families to hold all responsible parties accountable and obtain fair compensation. We have assembled a top notch, global team of attorneys and aviation experts to prosecute the case."

Hans-Peter Graf, a veteran commercial pilot and former investigator in charge at the Swiss Aircraft Accidents Investigation Bureau who specializes in flight operation and human factors, has been retained by Lieff Cabraser to work on the case.

The complaint charges that the pilots of the ExcelAire jet were flying at an incorrect altitude at the time of the collision, failed to operate the jet’s transponder and radio equipment properly, and failed to maintain communication with Brazilian air traffic control in violation of international civil aviation standards. If the pilots of the ExcelAire aircraft had followed these standards, the collision would not have occurred.

At the time of the collision, the ExcelAire aircraft’s transponder was not functioning. A transponder is the component part that transmits a plane’s altitude and operates its automatic anti-collision system.

Honeywell shares responsibility for the tragedy, the complaint alleges, because it defectively designed the transponder on the ExcelAire jet, and failed to warn of dangers resulting from foreseeable uses of the transponder.

On Tuesday, November 7, 2006, at 11 am, Robert L. Lieff and Lexi Hazam will hold a press conference, in Brazilian capital Brasí­lia, on the filing of the lawsuit, discuss their investigation of the Gol Airlines Flight 1907 accident and explain the grounds for the liability of ExcelAire and Honeywell.

Family members of victims of the tragedy will participate in addition to Leonardo Amarante and Hans-Peter Graf.

Lieff Cabraser is among the largest law firms in the United States that represents exclusively plaintiffs, and has been recognized by the prestigious National Law Journal for the last four consecutive years as one of the top plaintiffs’ law firms in America.

Only two other law firms in the United States have received this honor for the last four years. Lieff Cabraser is the only firm recognized that practices aviation law.

The firm currently represents aviation accident victims in connection with, among others, the crash of a Helios plane in Greece in August, 2005, the crash of a China Eastern plane in November 2004 near Bautou, China, the crash of a Flash Air plane near Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt in January, 2004, the crash of an Air Algerie plane in Tamanrasset in March 2003, the crash of a Mandala plane near Medan, Indonesia in September 2005, the crash of a West Caribbean Airways plane in Venezuela in August 2005, and the crash of a Comair Airlines jet in Lexington, Kentucky in August 2006.

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