Brazilian Prosecutors Appeal Dismissed Pilot Charges
By Richard Pedicini
February 10, 2009
Prosecutors in Brazil are appealing the dropping of some accusations in the 2006 midair collision between a Gol Airlines Boeing 737-800 and an ExcelAire Embraer Legacy 600. The airliner crashed into the Amazon forest, killing all 154 aboard, while the business jet made an emergency landing at an Air Force base.
Judge Murilo Mendes recently dismissed accusations that the American Legacy pilots, Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino, were negligent in not taking emergency steps for communications loss, ruling that nothing suggested an emergency situation. He also dropped charges against two of the air traffic controllers involved, accepting as normal the fact that they weren’t alarmed by another failure of an ATC system “characterized…by poor functioning, by repeated defects.
The judge’s downgrading of charges against another controller was not appealed, leaving no defendant facing a penalty greater than four years. Additionally, last week the Supreme Court in Brazil ruled that defendants can’t be jailed until all appeals are exhausted, a process that can take more than six years.
Even if convicted, there is now little chance any of those accused in the accident will serve time.