Did Not Notice Legacy's Transponder Was Inactive
Brazilian air traffic controller, working at the center responsible
for directing traffic in the area where a Gol airlines 737 and a
private business jet collided last month, told Newsday controllers
had more than an hour to notice the smaller aircraft's transponder
wasn't working at the time of the fatal accident that claimed 154
The controller -- who stressed he was not involved in directing
the planes involved in the accident -- also says controllers had
plenty of time to notice the planes were on a collision course,
even without the avoidance equipment.
"It is always our responsibility to maintain the separations,"
said the controller. "In this case, when you don't know the
altitude, it is very dangerous." "I would have preferred to
move them laterally, but it is always our responsibility to keep
As Aero-News reported,
authorities have said controllers at two centers -- Brasilia,
where the controller interviewed by Newsday works, and Manaus --
had directed the aircraft to the same altitude of 37,000 feet. All
onboard the 737 were lost; amazingly, those onboard the bizjet, an
Embraer Legacy 600 on a delivery flight to the US, survived after
the plane's pilots executed an emergency landing.
Those pilots -- Americans Jan Paladino and Joseph Lepore -- had
their passports immediately after the accident, and are still being
held in Brazil. The two men say they were operating under control
of the Brasilia center.
The Legacy's transponder apparently failed some time before the
crash. The failure was not noticed by the pilots, or by
"Airspace Control [personnel] should have the main
responsibility for monitoring and controlling aircraft," said
Renato Claudio Costa Pereira, a retired Air Force major general who
led the International Civil Aviation Organization for six years
until 2003. "Transponders and TCAS [electronic collision
avoidance equipment] are to be used as a last resort in any traffic
A spokesman for the Brazilian Air Force, which oversees all air
traffic control operations in the country, declined to comment.