Court to interrogate American pilots of Legacy in March
Direct from Cuiabá
The substitute Federal judge in the Single Court of Sinop (MT), Murilo Mendes, set March 30 and 31, at 12:00, for the interrogation of American pilots Joseph Lepore and Jan Paul Paladino. They will be heard by videoconference which will be realized at the Brazilian Consulate in Washington, in the United States. The pilots conducted the Legacy jet which collided with the Gol airplane in 2006. The collision caused the Boeing to crash in the county of Peixoto do Azevedo, Mato Grosso, killing 154 people.
Besides the interrogation, it was also determined by the judge that the Court will communicate to the Brazilian airline TAM, in three days, for it to designate a pilot with international experience, who can serve to collaborate with the Courts as an indirect witness, in an audience to be undertaken on March 11, at 15:00, in Sinop.
Mendes denied the request by the Federal Prosecutor's Office for a face-to-face questioning of defense witness Sergio Salles and the expert and aviation accident specialist Roberto Peterka, who is a witness for the prosecution. For the judge, both are technical experts who have a long curriculum in aviation, in such a way that it is very unlikely that they could be forced into an insurmountable contraction or have to retract what they said.
"Better, then, to hear someone who is essentially the judge's collaborator, a pilot with wide experience and with the capacity, in light of this, to elucidate questions which still need to be clarified", said the judge in his decision.
Murilo Mendes further determined that on March 14 and 15, as 12:00, the witnesses will be heard by videoconference. In the decision, which does not name the witnesses, it is emphasized that three people will be interrogated per day, informing that the Brazilians will be heard at the headquarters of the Department of Asset Recovery, an organ of the Ministry of Justice, in Brasilia.
Gol Flight 1907, which was performing the Manaus-Rio de Janeiro route, with a stop in Brasilia, crashed in the north of Mato Grosso, on September 29, 2006, killing the 148 passengers and six crew members. The accident involved the Legacy executive jet, manufactured by Embraer, which landed safely at an air base in the south of the state of Pará, after colliding with the Gol plane.
The pilots of the Legacy, Joseph Lepore e Jan Paul Paladino, are accused of not having turned on the Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), equipment responsible for contact between the aircraft and the transmission towers (sic).
The indictment by the Federal Prosecutors' Office, returned on May 25, 2007, related that the Gol plane's transponder remained on during the entire trip, but that of the Legacy, after a certain moment, was turned off. The transponder is a device which interacts with the air traffic control secondary radars and with other transponders, supplying information on the position and movement of the aircraft.
The transponder functions in an integrated manner with the TCAS. However, they are independent and differentiated devices, which serve to avoid one aircraft colliding with another. When the TCAS is turned on, it also automatically turns on the transponder, which doesn't happen when only the transponder is turned on.