Fri, Oct 20, 2006
Two American Pilots Caught In The Middle
The head of Brazil's
Federal Police has accused the Brazilian Defense Department of
withholding evidence that could implicate Brazilian Air Force
employees as having contributed to the mid-air collision last month
that killed 154 people.
As ANN reported yesterday,
Brazil's Defense Minister Waldir Pires backtracked on
statements that the two American pilots flying a new Embraer Legacy
600 were not following their flight plan when they clipped the
Brazilian Gol Airlines Boeing 737.
Now, the two pilots seem to be caught in a political cat-fight
as police official, Renato Sayao, complains that defense officials
are hindering his investigation.
Newsday reports the federal police on Monday formally demanded
the names of the air traffic controllers on duty at three different
centers, as well as all the recorded pilot/controller radio
The Brazilian newspaper O Globo was quoted as saying Pires
would comply with the police request "soon." The defense minister
had previously accused the two Embraer pilots of turning off their
transponders and deliberately ignoring ATC instructions.
The planes crashed near the point the Legacy jet, owned by
ExcelAire in Ronkonkoma,NY was passing into airspace controlled by
the regional air traffic control center in Manaus, the city from
which the Boeing had departed and to which the Legacy was
The Brazilian Air Force operates Brazil's air traffic control
system and the controllers are uniformed military personnel.
Meanwhile, the two pilots, Joseph Lepore and Jan Paladino remain
in Brazil unable to return home.
Numerous requests by members of the US congress to allow them to
come home while the investigation continues, have been ignored by
the Brazilian government.
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