December 9, 2008 - 17:48
Pilots involved in Gol crash absolved of negligence charges by Federal court
Agência Brasil reporter
Brasilia - The federal judge of Sinop in Mato Grosso, Murilo Mendes absolved of the accusation of negligence North American pilots Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino, pilots of the Legacy executive jet that, in September of 2006, collided with the Boeing making Gol Flight 1907, killing 154 people. However, Lepore and Paladino continue to respond to indictments for carelessness. Although the decision was taken yesterday, December 8, the decision was only released today, December 9.
Mendes also summarily absolved, completely, air traffic controllers Felipe Santos dos Reis and Leandro José Santos de Barros. Another professional, Lucivando Tibúrcio de Alencar, was summarily absolved of the accusation of negligence, but continues to respond to criminal charges of omission. Finally, the judge reclassified the accusation against Jomarcelo Fernandes dos Santos, qualifying his conduct as unintentional, in contrast to the desire of the Federal Prosecutors' Office, which indicted the controller for an intentional crime.
In May of last year, the Federal Prosecutors' Office (MPF) had indicted Lepore and Paladino for carelessness and professional negligende. In the indictment, Federal prosecutor Thiago Lemos de Andrade accused the North Americans of not following the authorized flight plan, since they remained at an altitude reserved for traffic coming in the opposite direction. Besides this, Andrade considered that the two had disactivated the Legacy's transponder from ou que os dois teriam desativado o transponder do Legacy por "unpreparedness", for which they continue to answer in the trial.
The transponder is a piece of electronic communications equipment which emits sigmals that can can identify an airplane and which, if it had been turned on on the day of the accident, could have avoided the collision between the Legacy and the Gol Boeing.
Also accused of unpreparedness were Reis, Alencar and Barros. The MPF considered that the flight information which Reis transmitted to the North Americans was incomplere, omitting the changes in altitude shich they should have made during the segment between the city of São José dos Campos, in São Paulo, and Manaus. For prosecutor Thiago Lemos de Andrade, Reis's omission had contributed "to the mistake by the Legacy's pilots, increasing the risks of an accident".
According to the prosecutor, Alencar and Barros violated professional rules by having been negligent with the safety procedures foreseen for cases of communications and transponder failures. In the indictment, Andrade sustained that, in not advising Cindacta-4 (Integrated Center for Air Defense and Air Traffic Control) about the communications failure with the Legacy's pilots, Alencar and Barros made inviable the adoption of the necessary corrective measures to avoid the tragedy.
Lastly, Andrade accused Fernandes dos Santos of abstaining intentionally from correcting the Legacy's altitude, even knowing that it was not flying at the altitude at which it should be travelling.
Differently than the other three controllers, indicted for contributing to the error made by Lepore and Paladino, Fernandes dos Santos also answered for the deaths of the 154 passengers of the Boeing,which disintegrated after the collision with the Legacy, crashing in the municipality of Sinop.
"The knowledge of the altitude discrepancy and, therefore, of the risk of collision, is the point that differentiates his conduct from that of the other controllers. While the other suppose dtha the aircraft was at the correct flight level, Fernandes dos Santos knew that it was not. Thus, he contributed, consciously, for the institution and maintenance of the situation of risk", Andrade wrote in the indictment presented to the Federal Court.
According to the press office of the Federal Prosecutors' Office, the prosecutor will await formal notificiation of the official judicial decision to analyse it and only then will he pronounce on what he will do.