Brazil Boeing Tragedy: US Pilots Blamed by Colleagues for Series of Blunders

Brazil's executive Legacy jet with damaged wing The day after Brazilian most-read daily Folha de S. Paulo published a transcript of the conversations of the American pilots who flew the executive Legacy jet that collided against a Boeing 737, killing all 154 people aboard, in which the proficiency of the pilots is put in doubt, Theo Dias, the Brazilian lawyer for the US duo was in damage control mode.

For Dias, the analysis of Joseph Lepore and Jan Paladino's dialogues published by Folha cannot be considered an indication that they were unprepared or had little experience in piloting the Legacy.

"When you read the conversations, which were transcribed in a truncated way and very badly translated, everything gets the wrong dimension. The pilots were never lost and they had enough familiarity with an airplane like that one. The rest are just assumptions."

The pilots' lawyer blames the São José dos Campos control tower, the place from where the Legacy took off on its maiden voyage. He says that the São José tower should have given the pilots all the procedures they should follow until they reached Manaus, in the Amazonas state, before authorizing their take off.

Brazilian pilots heard by O Estado de S. Paulo told that paper, based on what they read in the transcripts, that Lepore and Paladino showed that they were unprepared to fly the Legacy and didn't know how to operate the equipment of the small jet.

According to them, the American pilots didn't plot correctly the flight plan in their FMS (Flight Management System), an equipment that helps pilots plan their flights. "They couldn't even configure the flight plan," said a commercial plane commander.

The pilots are criticized for not knowing the plane's manual especially the trouble shooting (TX) section of the book. One of the US pilots is heard saying in the transcript: "I don't know what TX 35 means."

For another Brazilian pilot, the Americans didn't seem to have any familiarity with the navigation instruments. "This is something basic," he told O Estado, "but it seems as if they had trouble even using the radio. If they had plotted the flight plan data correctly, they would know that they were flying in the wrong altitude. The flight controllers, however, are in part responsible since they should have alerted about this."

The black box recording shows Lepore and Paladino angry at the São José dos Campos flight controllers for letting they take off without giving them more details. "We were trying to get an altitude before leaving and this happened. This way is tough," one of them says.

To what a retired commander commented: "At each stage of the flight there is a check-list to assist pilots. Apparently they didn't use it. This is aviation's ABC. It wasn't only one blooper but several of them."

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