Flight 1907: judge dismisses witnesses for American pilots
August 19, 2010
Direct from Cuiabá
The substitute Federal judge in Sinop (MT), Fabio Henrique Rodrigues de Moraes Fiorenza, dispensed with the interrogation of six people presented by the defense of American pilots Jan Paul Paladino and Joseph Lepore. They were piloting the Legacy jet when it collided with a Gol plane performing Flight 1907, in 2006. Also discarded was a witness presented by the air traffic controllers who were at work on the day of the accident which killed 154 people.
The decision, taken on August 10 and released this Thursday, dispensed Siraj Khan, Edward D. Henderson, David Rimmer, Henry Yadle (sic), Rad Hastings and Frank Lynch. The magistrate considered, as well, that the testimony of expert Christoph Gilgen, witness presented by the air traffic controllers, can be dispensed with as he would speak of information collected in an indirect manner, by analysis of documents and conversation with other people.
In the decision, the judge emphasized that the witnesses presented by the pilots would speak about the Americans' professional performance, which is dispensable, as well as the deposition of a witness on the international rules of aviation, especially on the relationship between pilots and controllers.
The controllers' defense solicited the analysis of technical evidence on radar coverage and radio transmission in the Brazilian air traffic control system. The judge emphasized that the request by the controllers' defense intends to show that the air traffic control system emits false information and, accustomed to that behavior by the system, the controllers wound up tolerating it, thus being brought to not adopt the correct procedures in a case of real failure.
The judge asked the Air Force Command and the University of Brasilia (UnB) for the indication of a professional to hear clarifications about the Brazilian air traffic control system. Nominated was Air Force General Jorge Kersul Filho, head of the Center for the Investigation and Prevention of Aviation Accidents (Cenipa), who will be heard by precatory letter.
The magistrate also approved the request by the Federal Prosecutors' Office of Mato Grosso to hear expert Roberto Peterka, who indicated improper conduct and negligence on the pilots' part.
The crash of Flight 1907 happened on September 29, 2006, in dense forest 30 Km from the city of Peixoto Azevedo (MT). The Gol Boeing 737 had left Boa Vista (RR) with a stop in Manaus (AM), Belém (PA) (sic) and Brasília with destination Rio de Janeiro and collided in midair with the Legacy jet. All 154 aboard died.
According to the report of the Center for the Investigation and Prevention of Aviation Accidents (Cenipa), the accident was caused, among other factors, by the American pilots' inattention and inexperience.
As for the Brazilian air traffic controllers, they too were indicated as responsible for the accident for having transmitted an incorrect flight authorization and for not having acted on noting the incorrect altitude of the aircraft's route.