North American pilot denies responsibility for collision with Gol plane
Brasília - In almost seven hours of testimony, North American pilot Jan Paladino denied today (March 30) that he was responsible for the failure of the anticollision equipment of the Legacy jet which collided with a Gol plane and provoked the deaths of 154 people in 2006. The pilot, who is in Nova York, was heard by Federal judge Murilo Mendes by means of videoconference.
Paladino and Joseph Lepore, who also piloted the business jet, are accused of having taken off with the anticollision system turned off and of not having activated the transponder, a device which informs the aircraft's position to air traffic control and to other aircraft.
In his testimony, Paladino recognized that the had never piloted a Legacy plane before the day of the accident, but he denied that he had turned on the anticollision equipment only after the collision. The pilot reiterated that, at no time, did the aircraft's equipment indicate any error, and specifically not the transponder.
The pilot also affirmed that he received from the Brazilian controllers orientation to continue at 37,000 feet, the altitude at which the Gol was, coming in the opposite direction.
"I had no personal involvement with the causes of the accident. I know that there are various barriers to keep this kind of accident from happening, but that day they all failed. No pilot could have foreseen the series of problems that happened that day", Paladino said.
For prosecutor Analícia Ortega Hartz, Paladino's testimony was marked by contradictions and attempts to shift all responsibility for the accident to the Brazilian air traffic control system. “The accusations remain: That the TCAS (anticollision system) was turned off and that the pilots did not notice that it was turned off, that there was a communications failure and that the pilots knew that this failure meant activation a code which would turn on the transponder and they were negligent”.
The defense lawyer for the North Americans, José Carlos Dias, said that the pilots are also victims of the accident and that they should not be blamed for the tragedy. "They are survivors, they never imagined that this tragedy would occur. I don't have the slightest doubt but that it was the error of the Brazilian air traffic control system that was the major cause of this tragedy. This became very clear today.”
Tomorrow (March 31), federal judge Murilo Mendes will hear the Legacy's other pilot, Joseph Lepore. The testimony will also be via videoconference. It is the first time that the pilots testify to the Brazilian courts.