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Mon, Oct 02, 2006

Brazilian Authorities Say Tapes Confirm Planes Collided

Authorities Review Legacy 600 Flight Recorders

ANN REALTIME REPORTING 10.02.06 1030 EDT: Authorities have examined the flight recorders of the Embraer Legacy 600 suspected to be involved in Friday's crash of a Gol Airlines 737. According to CNN, an initial review of the data and voice records supports the pilot's claims of a mid-air collision.

The 737 data recorders have not yet been recovered.

The pilot of the Embraer successfully landed the aircraft with a portion of a wing missing. Authorities questioned the seven passengers and crew aboard -- their stories all agreed. They felt a bump, the aircraft shook, then the pilot turned off the autopilot and made an emergency landing.

Gol Airlines flight 1907 plunged into a thickly-jungled region about 18 miles from Peixoto de Azevedo, Brazil. Search and rescue personnel spotted the wreckage from the air, but crews were unable to reach the remote area from the ground.

Crews helicoptered in to a nearby clearing and were finally able to reach the site after forcing their way through the dense undergrowth.

Despite the hazardous terrain and thick foliage, crews spent all day Sunday searching the site for survivors -- so far, without success.

Questions still linger over how two aircraft could have collided without the Embraer's pilots seeing the other, much larger, 737. And, of course, how an impact that caused such slight damage to the Embraer might bring down a 737.

Brazilian Air Force officials say they've begun the grisly job of recovering bodies. The first two were carried to a local air force base by helicopter late Sunday evening before nightfall suspended operations.

Authorities have not declared an official cause for the crash -- they say the investigation could take up to three months.

ORIGINAL REPORTS

ANN REALTIME REPORTING 10.01.06 1600 EDT:There is tragic news from Brazil. Rescue crews helicoptered to the crash site last night have sifted through the wreckage all day. The Times of India reports President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has said there is no sign of survivors.

The president has called for three days of mourning in memory of the 155 dead.

GOL company officials have released details from the passenger and crew manifest. There were 149 passengers and 6 crew aboard.

The Captain, Decio Chaves Junior, 44, started flying in 1980 and joined Transbrasil in February 1986. As Captain, he flew Boeing 727 and 737 aircraft. He's been with GOL for five years and has ammassed 14,900 flight hours.

The Co-pilot, Thiago Jordao Cruso, 29, has been flying since 1999. He's been with GOL for more than four years. He has 3,850 hours.

Rescue crews continue to scour the crash site, but at this late hour hold little hope for finding any survivors.

ANN will post more details on this tragedy as they become available.

ANN REALTIME REPORTING 09.30.06 1000 EDT: Search and rescue aircraft located the wreckage of a Brazilian Gol Airlines 737-800 that disappeared from radar last night following a reported mid-air collision with an Embraer Legacy 600.

Reuters reports the location of the crash site as Mato Grosso state -- described as an area of "difficult access."

Brazilian defense minister Waldir Piers said the Embraer pilot, who made an emergency landing with a damaged wing, told the authorities "he practically did not see the plane. When he saw something it was but a shadow. And he felt a shock, which made him lose part of a wing."

In a somewhat confusing statement that may have come from Waldir, Reuters reports that "radars" showed the two aircraft separated by 1000' of altitude. Which radar is not specified...

The 737-800 is practically brand new; Gol took delivery from Boeing on September 12. Gol says the aircraft had only logged 200 hours to date.

So far, no word on possible survivors.

ANN will post updates to this developing story as details become available.

ANN REALTIME REPORTING 09.29.06 2115 EDT: Authorities in Brazil are scrambling to locate a Gol Airlines 737 that disappeared from radar Friday over the Amazon region, following an apparent midair collision with a smaller plane.

A spokesman for the Manaus airport told Reuters flight 1907, bound for Brasilia, did not arrive as scheduled.

The head of Brazil's airport authority, Infraero, said the airliner collided with a business jet, believed to be an Embraer Legacy 600, which later landed safely with a damaged wing.

Gol says there were 155 passengers onboard the 737. It is not known if that number includes crewmembers.

For the moment, there is little hard evidence to indicate where the jet may have gone down. A local farmer reported seeing a large jet flying low near the Serra do Cachimbo, a Para state city about 600 miles southeast of Manaus.

Press Statement From Embraer

Embraer was informed today of a mid-air collision involving a Legacy 600 aircraft which it manufactured, serial number 965, owned and operated by one of its clients.

According to unconfirmed reports, the collision occurred in the Serra do Cachimbo region, in the State of Pará, Northern Brasil. Immediately after that, the Legacy 600 (File photo, below) landed at the Cachimbo Air Force Base, with no injuries on board.

Embraer has offered to cooperate with aeronautical authorities in any way possible in the investigations of the cause of this regrettable accident. To that end, a team of Company technicians is preparing to leave for the region.

ANN will update this story as more information becomes available.

FMI: www.voegol.com.br/, www.embraer.com

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