One year after the collision between a Boeing 737 and a Legacy executive jet, in the Brazilian Amazon, Brazil's Center for Investigation and Prevention of Aeronautical Accidents (Cenipa) announced the results of its heretofore investigations and they suggest that the Legacy's two American pilots and the Brazilian air controllers should be blamed for the accident that left 154 dead.
At the time this was the deadliest Brazilian air accident ever. It happened on September 29, 2006. Since then, another plane crash with 199 dead, in the Congonhas Airport in São Paulo, broke that record. The Airbus A-320 from TAM airline skidded off Congonhas runway under the rain on August 1st, 2007.
The new document from Cenipa, an organ from the Brazilian Air Force (FA) does not name the guilty parties, but it makes clear that there wasn't any breakdown in the aircrafts communication equipments including the transponders (responsible for the contact between the airplane and the radar network) and the TCAS (the anticollision equipment).
The Air Force investigators say that they haven't found any evidence that the radar coverage in the area the accident occurred had any influence in the air tragedy. This would discard the theory that the existence of black holes in the Brazilian airspace – areas not covered by radar – would be a determining factor in the collision.
The probe mentions, however, that "some rules and procedures were not correctly abided by". These preliminary data were passed by Cenipa's head, Jorge Kersul, and by the investigation commission's president, colonel Rufino Antonio da Silva Ferreira, to Jorge André Cavalcante, who is the uncle of one of the people killed on the crashed plane.
"I was with colonel Rufino Ferreira and with Jorge Kersul," Cavalcante, who was president of the Flight 1907 Victims Relatives Association, told reporters, "and they said there is no final report on the accident. According to them, the only concrete information is that a recommendation will be issued next week in order to prevent new air accidents from occurring."
In a document marking the accident's first anniversary the Brazilian Air Force states that, "under the prevention optics, all accident results from the confluence of several aligned conditions, the so-called safety barriers, and never as a consequence of a single factor".
"That's the way it is all over the world and it behooves the preventive investigation to learn lessons from these occurrences that will result in improvement of all and any affected area".
The Air Force denied that it has leaked any information on the investigations, telling that they are well aware of the "international rules that govern such procedure and the value of preserving necessary data to explain the factor that contributed to the accident".
There is still no date for when the FAB final report will be finished and made public. The Air Force's document should list a series of human errors as determining factors in the Boeing accident.
It should mention for example that the American pilots didn't take the necessary steps in response to a communication problem like typing code 7600 on the transponder.
Joseph Lepore and Jan Paladin, both from New York, will also be rapped for not questioning Brasília's control tower over the conflict between the flight plan given by São José dos Campos – the city where the flight originated – to fly all the way to Manaus at 37,000 feet and the common knowledge among pilots they would be on the wrong way by keeping that altitude.
As for the flight controllers they will be reproached for not locating alternative radio frequencies to reach the Legacy when they noticed they had lost contact with the small executive jet.