Boeing Tragedy: Aviation Leaders Beg Brazil to Not Indict Air Controllers

Several international aviation organizations including the  Flight Safety Foundation and the National Business Aviation Association criticized the Brazilian justice decision to arraign the American pilots Joseph Lepore and Jan Paul Paladino.

They call the Brazilian action a dangerous precedent that will not contribute to avoid other accidents in the future. Dan Hubbard, a spokesman for the National Business Aviation Association told reporters: "We will keep our opposition to any criminal charge in this case and we regret the Justice’s decision."

On Friday, December 8, Lepore and Paladino, after a 6-hour interrogatory, in São Paulo’s Federal Police headquarters, in which they remained silent, were charged with "culpably exposing to danger a vessel or aircraft," a crime contemplated in article 261 of Brazil’s Penal Code.

The leaders of several aviation organizations tried to avoid till the last minute that the arraignment occurred. They sent a joint letter to the Brazilian justice commending the Court decision to release the Americans and "renewing a call that criminal inquiries not be made a part of investigations into any party involved in the accident."

The pilots had their passports confiscated and were held in virtual house arrest in a Rio hotel since the Legacy executive jet they were piloting collided with a Boeing 737 killing all 154 people aboard on September 29.

"Since September 29, the international community has been calling for a through investigation into this tragic accident," the letter reads and continues:

"In order to fully understand the causes behind any accident, investigators must carefully examine all evidence, including the information that is collected from interviews with those operators most directly involved. Collection of crucial data must be free from any interference by the penal system, as fear of prosecution and/or imprisonment will only deter witnesses who may be willing to assist in the investigation.

"… A criminal inquiry has no place in the investigation of any party’s role in this accident. We are pleased that your criminal authority is working to release the pilots involved in the accident, and we implore you to also set aside any criminal component in your investigation of the involvement of air traffic controllers or other parties in the events of September 29."

The letter concluded saying: "We understand the need for a grieving public to want to see justice served, and we do not seek to put our colleagues above the law. However, criminal investigations into aviation accidents like the one on September 29 are at odds with efforts to discover root causes of accidents and avoid future mistakes."

The letter was signed by the leaders of the Flight Safety Foundation, the National Business Aviation Association, the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations, the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization and the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations.


"The decision to accuse Joe and Jan of criminal wrongdoing is irresponsible in the face of overwhelming evidence that exonerates them," said Robert Torricella, a Miami-based lawyer for ExcelAire, the employer of the two American pilots.
"The Brazilian Federal Police is telling the world that pilots who fly in Brazil can be accused of crimes for doing nothing more than complying with applicable aviation regulations and following air traffic control directives. This is an alarming precedent for the international aviation community."

"We had hoped that the police investigation would be conducted with integrity and transparency, and that they would have listened to the pilots’ testimony before making baseless accusations," said José Carlos Dias, Brazilian counsel for the pilots.

"We are disappointed that the police investigator could not rise above the politics of the matter and let the facts determine its actions."

ExcelAire Press Release:

The ExcelAire family welcomes home its pilots, Joseph Lepore and Jan Paladino, at their arrival by private jet at Long Island-MacArthur airport today. The pilots were detained in Brazil following the September 29, 2006 mid-air collision between a Gol Airlines Boeing 737 and an Embraer Legacy 600 jet.

"We are thrilled to have Joe and Jan back home after a long and difficult detainment in Brazil, and this homecoming is a very special day for all of us at ExcelAire," said Bob Sherry, ExcelAire’s President and CEO. "We have been working tirelessly since the accident to bring them home, and are glad that Joe and Jan can be home with their families for the holidays, where they belong."

"We would like to thank all those people here in the U.S., Brazil and around the world that have helped so much and provided so much support to Joe and Jan during this trying time," said Mr. Sherry.

"We’d also like to thank the aviation industry associations, politicians and labor unions that have been so dedicated to this cause, and to advocating for the fair treatment of the accident investigations in Brazil."

He added, "We continue to extend our sympathies and prayers to the families and friends that lost loved ones in this tragic accident."


  • Show Comments (25)

  • Brazeagle

    Once I told you all fellow patriots that “WE HAVE A PROBLEM” lots of this no sense arguments by many will not help solve the problem we the BRAZILIAN AIRPSACE have…
    Everyday after that ACCIDENT something negative comes up in our NATIONAL NEWS.
    I continue with the idea… WE NEED IMPROVEMENT… WE MESSED UP and unfortunately had an accident!!!
    Lets be real, our system is OLD, ABSOLUTE AND DEFICIENT. (sorry my english)
    LOOK AT THE NEWS TODAY, remember once I said… I WORKED IN THE CINDACTA II – 1986 and since then we had problems…
    Best to all and fly safe.

    PARANÀƒÂ | AVIAÀƒ‡ÀƒƒO 21/03/2007 – 11h49, atualizado em 21/03/2007 ÀƒÂ s 18h36
    Aeroporto Afonso Pena tem pane e pÀƒ¡ra por 2 horas

    Sistema do Cindacta-2 falhou entre as 7h30 e as 9h30 desta quarta-feira. Pelo menos 8 vÀƒ´os tiveram atraso de mais de uma hora em SÀƒ£o JosÀƒ© dos Pinhais

  • Allen Brown

    O speak to me toothless wonder
    I pitty you and thoes you call friends .
    you show your true side every time you try to put words to paper .
    are you a member of congress

    do you understand the tile costinha & indeed

  • Costinha

    To Allen Brown!
    You dumbass… The last time you went to an airport and saw the sign “Airport Left,” then you turned around and went home!

    I know, you are so confused… you don’t know whether to scratch your watch or wind your ass. Hehehe

    Good day, american floating caca.

  • indeed

    superficial dishonest unreliable what else there is?
    So, what do we blame? The systems failures that occurred. You canˢ۪t fix a problem, unless you first all agree that there is a problem. This problem has been known since 1972. It has killed before this, it will kill again. Why have we gotten away with it? Itˢ۪s a big sky (theyˢ۪ll probably miss anyway, do everyday). Is that good enough for you (me, I fly off airway, and with equipment that allows me to see for myself)? You ready to fix this yet, or do you wanna just holler at eachother somemore instead

    Talking to you is like talking to the walls or to a door; tough it is way more efficient talking to the wall so you won’t get a stupid response. Maybe communication is difficult between your brazilian mate as well? Listen to it and don’t treat it as your sexual robot may give you better results.

    Americans are the most ridiculous human beings of the world! What a stupidity listen to them! OMG! Listen they chatting up a girl! It’s the most pathetic thing I ever heard! What a idiot!

    Blame the dead! Probably it was their fault being in the way of a small jet full of Americans!

    Nobody is held responsible!

    Let the pilots sleep the rest of the just men. They DID NOT KILLED 154 PEOPLE…. bla bla bla. At some place of their subconcious they know the truth. And all of YOU!

    The American dynamic, is there for anyone to see.

    Little Bush in soul are the Americans. America was never founded in principles of equality or anything of that matter.

    Americans are great propagandists since the early times.

    You did this Latin America, what we are. Now take care of the illegal immigrants.It’s the least. But not even this you people are capable of doing. What a shame! Go sleep the rest of the fair men.

    You people have the heritage of having killed more people for money, corrupted national policies to better their countries. I am sure you people need to deny life all the time, life must be hard for American, being one must be tough!

    Don’t come to Brazil the natives dont want to be exploited by you, unless you pay them in dollars! If they do, they are cheap whores.

    And the whores, they are the only ones who want really to be next to you! Verdinhas! $!$!

  • Costinha

    What we have here is a big À¢€œBOBÀ„€OÀ¢€Â
    September 8th, the WTO panel confirms victory for Brasil over illegal US subsidies in several trading commodity areas, multilaterally.

    Search it, this information is easily available! I knowÀ¢€¦ You canÀ¢€™t read much less comprehend. Here silly little american BOBÀ„€O, I got a task for you: Go À¢€œjoin the dots game,À¢€Â after you master 3 dots we will talk again!

    Now then, on your way outÀ¢€¦ À¢€œDon’t Let The Door Handle Hit You Where The Good Lord Split You.À¢€Â

    HeheheÀ¢€¦ Good Day!

  • Keith Peshak

    So, Whereyat
    One of the principles that we should all aspire to is to make absolutely sure that those a society punishes are guilty. Our Constitution is based on the principle that it is better to let 1000 guilty go free than risk 1 innocent be punished. Both of our societies seem to have forgotten that, reviewing recent events and actions as concerns this midair.

    As I understand it, the À¢€œitemÀ¢€Â filed against the Legacy 600 pilots is more on the order of À¢€œwe want you to know that you may have to come back here to testify about issues not entirely clear at this timeÀ¢€Â. That is not really what my culture would call an À¢€œindictmentÀ¢€Â. In my country you are officially accused to be guilty of a crime when an indictment is filed À¢€“ the result of a grand jury already essentially convicting you based on evidence (but without a defense being presented). Lest we misunderstand the semantics of different cultures. That seems reasonable, given that there was loss of life.

    What we all seem to agree on is that the pilots of the two airplanes did exactly as they were commanded to do. The reason that they were so exacting caused a near miss (we have hundreds per day in my country, according to the FAA definition of a near miss) to be a hit.

    What we havenÀ¢€™t all of us yet noticed is that the commands from the controllers were not at all unreasonable, given what they were looking at. Lest we go hang them, also without reasonable cause, we should notice what they were operating under: Real Targets, Unreal Displays. Proof of that is the radar showed Legacy 600 “hot-dogging” while the Legacy 600 FDR showed unaccelerated flight (along with its eye witness who buys ink by the railroad tank car load). After all, the FAA even knows that this is a usual situation À¢€“ why they require the TCAS (a back-up radar) in each airplane. Gee, two radars, one on the ground for the controllers, which wasnÀ¢€™t showing truth, and one in each airplane for the pilot to look at, which also missed reality.

    We havenˢ۪t at all yet looked at, why was it that the TCAS systems in the aircraft failed to catch the impending collision. We can understand a radar, way far away, missing it, but these two local radars were up close to the action.

    Just as we shouldnÀ¢€™t fault the pilots (they did nothing wrong), or the controllers (looks like they did it right too), we shouldnÀ¢€™t fault the politicians caught in the big lie either. They were acting so as to suppress panic in the air travel industry, and the resulting damage to the economy that would absolutely result therefrom. Lie, yes, but not so much of an injustice to society as a whole. We call that a À¢€œlittle white lieÀ¢€Â, though this one was a whopper.

    So, what do we blame? The systems failures that occurred. You canˢ۪t fix a problem, unless you first all agree that there is a problem. This problem has been known since 1972. It has killed before this, it will kill again. Why have we gotten away with it? Itˢ۪s a big sky (theyˢ۪ll probably miss anyway, do everyday). Is that good enough for you (me, I fly off airway, and with equipment that allows me to see for myself)? You ready to fix this yet, or do you wanna just holler at eachother somemore instead?

  • Allen Brown

    it is only the tip of the ice burg
    Well it seams like some people don’t get the drift of the topic ,
    hang the survivors ,
    À‚ À‚ if everyone would have died it would have been very easy to say what happened ,
    just change the tapes or never find them , ( big rain forest )
    YES this is a travesty in the worst degree ,
    154 people had to die to see yet another government cover up , IT happens i every countryÀ‚ À‚ but it is personified in Brazil .

    I have flown all over Brazil , outer markers not working or just not there , ATC never reply to you in English or Portuguese , runway safety lights out , the list goes on and on .

    But here is one that is coming up soon a full 85% of the nav markers in Brazilian waters are not there the charts are 18 years out of date , what is going to happen when a ship filled with oil , does the same thing to another . people and oil all over the ocean then the navy Brazil will just hang the captain of the foreign ship !!!

    and if you think a few bad words will get you more attention you are wrong , and to say we Americans are bad saying bad words on this site ,

    we have our bad sides and yes the government of the US is corrupt but it is far and gone better that Brazil’s

    look around in your country ,
    À‚ À‚ was it not world cup schedule done with a nude woman on the cover and on ever page there after ,given to children in school

    does not every city with more than 2 people have 12 or more motels just for sex ,

    Go out in the out lying city’s around Rio and see how many 14 year old hookers it takes selling there child hood to make a float in your carnival .

    go to PB and seeÀ‚ À‚ why 4500 women and young ladies have been killed and not one arrest made

    why does Brazil think sex and tourism belong in the same line of a sentence

    the police in Brazil have been given the holy grail of truth, they rob you , me and every one else they can and the total country does nothing . but go and drink , party , and see what it takes to get by on some one Elise’s grief.

    the gov pointsÀ‚ À‚ out the way they want you to go and like the sheep you fallow . the only free thinkers in the country are the crooks

    and COSTINHA the only gringo friends you may have are not what the U.S.A and the rest of the world are like get out and get a life .

  • Bobão

    The solution to this quagmire will never be arrived at without economic pressure being exerted from outside Brazil. The US should unilaterally suspend all air commerce with Brazil until an ICAO audit finds that Brazil is in full compliance with all international treaty obligations to which it is a signatory.

    Past news reports from Brazil clearly show that ANAC is demonstrably not in compliance on a range of issues extending well beyond the current fiasco masquerading as an investigation conducted under Annex 13.

  • Simpleton

    Relax and watch the play. Very clever of these organizations to respectfully ask the Brazillian Justice not to arraign the ATC contollers by saying “we implore you to also set aside any criminal component in your investigation of the involvement of air traffic controllers or other parties”. Much much better than anything Condi could or should have said.

    The FAB controllers know the limitations of thier systems. They caught on to what was transpiring too late to be able to reach the GOL by radio either directly or by relay and have it divert it’s track to avoid this tradgedy. All they could do was to try to reach the Legacy by radio and pray. Had they not been as unattentive to thier systems and displays as much as the GOL and Legacy pilot’s? Biggest hazard in aviation is everyone becoming complacent / reliant on the secondary protection equipment whether that be TCAS / ACAS or terrain avoidance systems.

    This plea for the justice department to proceed with common sense from this point forward matters little as the precedent has been set. Unless military law in Brazil protects them from the justice department, the ATC controllers and thier superior officers must now be arraigned. The justice department has no choice in order to save face. That the ATC personnel have been forthcoming (albeit way too late / slowly) with the when / what / how they were fooled by what they saw and missed what they should have seen and didn’t say what they should have said at the time they were supposed to say it etc., etc., was good and benificial to improving and avoiding this in the future. Now, unfortunately, they must all shut up and possibly try to flee the country if they have a passport. I for one did not want to see Brig Bueno have to transition to pajamas this way, he’s a good man. Then again, maybe this is an opportunity to rise instead?

  • alltheway

    To inho
    Hello son

  • Rick

    Back to the article at the top, if I may, it would appear that the American pilots were arraigned, not indicted. Something wasperhaps lost in the, admittedly difficult, translation. There is a difference…..

  • inho

    Unless alltheway is a handsome charming stud I bet 10 he never bedded any brazilian women besides the whores!

    Most likely he is a fat ugly bald American man!


  • rick/robie

    written by A concerned friend, 2006-12-09 19:21:57

    Relax. What can screaming cunt and stupid americans or brazilians accomplish?? Are you adding to the hatred of the world?? It sounds to me that many of you are angry. None of that vile language will change the facts that the Brazilian and American are working very hard to uncover. It is an important issue that many people are working to solve. No one wants to be responsible for an error which may have lead to the death of 154 people. Let’s remove stereotypes and ethnic hatred from the emotionally charge situation. Unless YOU have all the facts and all the international laws memorized, let’s leave the judgement to the courts. I know how I want the ruling to be, but my OPINION does not matter to the courts. How do you people wish to continue from here?


    I believe this may be your site, no? You use subtle language as your power tool. What American and what Brazilian is working very hard, and what are they working to uncover? Why is the that specific thread back there is so poorly designed so anyone can read what have been written there? These pacifying fellows appear out of the blue, they normally appear friendly and reasonable when they feel they are losing their moral high ground. And just to add something positive and defend the Yankees who post here. Brazilians cannot defend themselves on this site simply because there are almost NO Brazilian posting or reading it. Maybe the fake brazilians will appear 😀 As I say I am in my country, I did not go to your site about America to denigrate your culture or your people or your country or person.

    At a point you are back to the topic. IÀ¢€™d love to know who these À¢€œpeopleÀ¢€Â working to solve this important issue are and how are they À¢€œsolvingÀ¢€Â it. And your opinion do not count anymore, after all this time and threads and posts? Yeah, right. The ONLY international rule these pilots had to comply with is the one that demands them to follow the flight plan. Hold your horses. No one wants to be responsible for the death of 154 people? How about the American pilots involved in the accident who refuse any responsibility in their participation in the accident? The Americans expats here take the accountability burden to themselves as it seems, donÀ¢€™t ask me why, ask a shrink. Your lame dignity sirs, is busted.

  • rick/robie

    Mike in Brazil
    Lots of crediblity you have and superioty shifting to inferiority complex too.

  • Rick

    So whatÀ‚´s your point?

    Big party tonight in Ronkonkoma, NY.

  • an american

    to the moral high ground team “***ALSO ON THE NEWS TODAY***
    to the moral high ground team Mad max, Indeed and Allen Brown “***ALSO ON THE NEWS TODAY***
    written by an american, 2006-12-09 17:46:36

    Foley might not even be prosecuted
    This is getting worse and worse. Yesterday, the Republican-led House Ethics Committee ruled that the Republican leadership did nothing wrong in how it responded to the Foley incident. Now, according to ABC News, Mark Foley himself might not even be prosecuted:
    According to several sources, prosecutors have had difficulty establishing probable cause of a crime. The barrier in getting past the probable cause threshold was the statute on transmitting obscene materials to minors. Under federal law, the age of minors receiving obscene materials is 16.
    Republican-led Ethics Committee gives partisan ruling on Foley
    Gee, what a surprise! The Republican-led House Ethics Committee finished its investigation into the Mark Foley sex scandal, and concluded that nothing was unethical about the way the Republican leadership handled it:
    The panel voted to endorse an 89-page report recommending À¢€œno further investigative or disciplinary proceedings,À¢€Â against anyone in connection with the scandal, which is believed by many to have contributed to heavy Republican losses in the November election.
    It comes despite the fact that this same committee even admitted that a Republican House clerk had been addressing the Foley issue since 1995:
    The committee concluded that House Clerk Jeff Trandahl “repeatedly tried to address Rep. Foley’s conduct,” beginning with his 1995 election to the House, and “directly confronted Foley on the matter approximately ten times at various places for various reasons.”
    Dennis Hastert, the leader of the Republican majority, was found innocent by a Republican majority in the committee. How would we have expected any other ruling but this? This is where power can be such an asset.

    Today, in federal court, the ACLU and Human Rights First argued its case that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld should be held accountable for the torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. military custody.
    Todayˢ۪s hearing marked the first time a federal court has considered whether top U.S. officials can be held legally accountable for the torture scandal in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    The ACLU and Human Rights First filed the lawsuit in March 2005 on behalf of nine innocent civilians who were detained by the United States military in Iraq and Afghanistan. While in U.S. custody, the men were subjected to abuse, torture and other cruel and degrading treatment, including severe and repeated beatings, cutting with knives, sexual humiliation and assault, mock executions, death threats, and restraint in contorted and excruciating positions. All of the men were released without charge.
    À¢€œOur clientsÀ¢€™ case is about ensuring that thereÀ¢€™s meaningful accountability, to create an effective deterrent against future violations and to ensure the courtsÀ¢€™ ongoing role in enforcing the law against torture,À¢€Â said Deborah Pearlstein, director of Human Rights FirstÀ¢€™s Law and Security program. À¢€œThe Supreme Court has made it clear that wartime does not create a law-free zone.À¢€Â
    Rumsfeld moved to dismiss the lawsuit, hence, the hearing today.
    Todayˢ۪s hearing addressed the defendantsˢ۪ claim that they cannot be held legally liable for the torture of civilians in U.S. custody. The ACLU and Human Rights First argued that the Constitution and international law clearly prohibit torture and require commanders to act when they know or should have known of abuses. In addition to the orders they gave directly, Secretary Rumsfeld and the other defendants were repeatedly notified of abuse and torture at detention facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan by military reports, the International Red Cross and other reports and complaints by human rights organizations.
    The groups further charge in the lawsuit that Secretary Rumsfeld personally approved brutal and illegal interrogation techniques in December 2002. Those techniques included the use of À¢€œstress positions,À¢€Â the removal of clothing, the use of dogs, and isolation and sensory deprivation.
    The ACLU also brought three related lawsuits against Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez, former Brigadier General Janis Karpinski and Colonel Thomas Pappas. The four cases were consolidated and transferred to Chief Judge Thomas F. Hogan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. All of the defendants have moved to dismiss the suits in their entirety.
    The lawsuit is seeking compensatory damages for the plaintiffs and a court order declaring that the actions of Secretary Rumsfeld and the other officers violated the U.S. Constitution, federal statutes and international law.

  • altheway

    “Airlines are already feeling the pinch. Shares in BrazilÀ¢€™s top two airlines, TAM Linhas Aereas and Gol, have each fallen more than 15 percent in the last two months.”:

    “And on Thursday, Gol slashed its revenue forecast for this year and next, citing a drop in passenger traffic because of the crisis”.

    Keep going Brasil, another 85% decline and you can all ride horse between cities but at least you won’t have admit any blame”

  • altheway

    The Brasilians do provide one thing . their daughters, sisters, wives and mothers”. in fact they beg us to be with them, every day, every night. Maybe I will be with your tonight Costinha ..(

  • Mike

    Robbie, porque o complexo de inferioredade?

  • ch.c.

    To robie !!!!
    looks like that your education and knowledge have not teached you that there are
    2 millions Brazilians illegally in the USA, but not the opposite… you may suggest !

    As to the American culture you criticize, your forgot to mention that your writings are made from an American technology (yopur PC), your mobile phone too. Your baseball cap too is American. Your Ipod too and the music you listen 24/7….too !!!! Even your baskets are Nike or Reebok !
    And what do the world uses from Brazil ???????? Ohhhh yes…. Brazilian flip flops to a small extend…. but not even a Brazilian invention ! Chinese made are much cheaper anyway. What else….really ????
    Looks like Brazilians are lazy and sleepy for inventions….!!!!! Born with half or no brain ?

    Hopefully you realize that both the Americans and Europeans wish too that they would have far LESS Brazilians in their countries.

  • Costinha

    To All My american Friends!
    KISS MY (…..o…..) !

  • ch.c.

    Americans are begging ?????????? Whoaaaaaa…….
    More stupid statements there is not !

    As I said here, it was a huge SCAM TO HIDE the reality of the Brazilian Air (UN)SAFETY that exposed tens and tens of millions of Air passengers for years…while in the Brazilian
    skies !!!!!!! And this despite your statements of having well trained ATCs, latest equipment, and equipments in sufficient quantity ! Or as you said : practically the world best Air Security !

    As I said too, now that the US pilots have been freed thatz you took as hostages to divert the public attention of your own internal problems, the World Media who kept low key so far, are going to ridicule ALL Brazilian Authorities and Agencies in charge of
    your Air Security !!!!!

    Nooooo ?????? Yesssssssss…it already just started :

    And they say it better than me !

    SHAME TO BRAZILIANS, constantly cheating, lying and hiding the sad reality !

    the truth will finally be revealed to the world, and no doubt, will help your tourism sector, as much as the gangsters assaulting the foreign tourists, and even your Justice
    Chief !!!!!

    Laugh…laugh…laugh ! By now the motto wont be…one more day in Brazil….but…..for your own safety avoid Brazil !

  • Rick

    I have no idea what you are talking about.

  • rick/robie

    I cannot read my post on the otherthread thank you
    “You, sir, are a very ignorant man. I hope you enjoy live among the favelas. Which are you, a prostitute or a drug dealer?

    Aren’t those the two most common jobs in your corrupt, immoral country? ”

    This type of American is what I refer to be the more useless, full of ignorance and harmful foreign in whole Brazil! It is a disappointment having to know that these type of beings live here in my home country. You people are to predictable, ignorant, dead souls. Your miserable lives in America brought you here as anyone can see. Amazing how any other foreign nationality isn’t any likely yours here in Brazil! And you bring all your bag of s**t to this country! I hope never ever have to meet you sir. And if I ever do I would avoid it as o diabo foge da cruz! Keep this bad of s****y culture in America, where it belongs. Merci.

  • Rick

    WhatÀ‚´s going to be thrilling is watching as this plays out. If only we could see the pushing and shoving that will be going on in the back rooms.

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