Brazil Congress Wants US Pilots Indicted for Murder in Air Accident

American pilots Jan Paladino and Joseph Lepore Brazil's Inquiry Parliamentary Commission (CPI) on the Brazilian Air Traffic has concluded its report on Brazil's worst accident ever, when a Boeing 737 collided with a Legacy executive jet piloted by two Americans, causing the death of all 154 aboard the Boeing, which fell in the Amazon jungle on September 29, 2006.

fThe Brazilian House of Representatives's commission in the 200-page report is recommending that Joseph Lepore and Jan Paul Paladino, the two American pilots, be indicted for murder. They are considered the main culprits of the accident for having – as the report concluded – turned off the Legacy's transponder, equipment connected to the plane's flight control system.

Lepore and Paladino are accused of acting with malice. Although they had no intention to kill anybody, the document says, they knew their action posed that risk.

As for flight controllers Felipe dos Santos Reis, Leandro José Santos Barros, Lucivando Tibúrcio de Alencar and Jomarcelo Fernandes dos Santos from Brasí­lia's Air Control Center they are also considered guilty and the CPI recommends that they be indicted for involuntary manslaughter for their negligence.

The Federal Public Prosecutor's Office had asked that Jomarcelo be charged with intentional felonious homicide, but the CPI's reporter, Marco Maia, from the Workers Party said that the congressional committee didn't agree with that decision.

"The controllers also failed," said Maia, "especially when they handed over the information and when they didn't follow all the legal rules. But the crime they committed didn't carry any criminal malice."

Maia believes that by turning off the transponder the American pilots contributed decisively to the accident. "The truth of the matter is that the transponder was turned off and this is an instrument of major importance for safety. Another consideration is that the aircraft commander is the one responsible for the flight. He needs to be attentive to all the situations," said the representative.

"All the elements show that the transponder was off and that both pilots were in a wrong way course," added Maia.

The American pilots responsibility, ponders the legislator, is even bigger when you consider that the pilots didn't know the Brazilian air space, had little knowledge on how to operate the Legacy's equipment and had a "very low situational awareness" in the hours leading to the accident.

Maia informed that after the Congress recess, from July 18 to August 1st, the Air Traffic Blackout Inquiry will start a new stage in their investigation. In this second phase the inquiry will concentrate on three specific themes: air space control system, the establishment of regulations for the sector and examination of the contracts signed by Infraero, the state-owned company in charge of the Brazilian airports.

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