Lawyer Urges Release Of Pilots

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The lawyer for American pilots Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino says a preliminary report into the collision of their Embraer Legacy business jet and a GOL Boeing 737 fails to establish a cause for the accident and it could be 10 months or more before one is established. In news release, Robert Torricella also noted the report clearly shows the pilots held their assigned altitude and did not perform the “stunts” that some Brazilian officials alleged occurred before the collision, which caused the 737 to crash, killing all 154 on board. Torricella also notes that Brazilian Air Force Col. Rufino Antonio Da Silva Ferreira noted that flight plans are not necessarily the final word on determining an aircraft’s flight profile, but he stopped short of explaining that air traffic control guidance supersedes them. The Legacy was assigned 37,000 feet by ATC even though its northwesterly track should have put it at 36,000 feet, which was what the crew had flight planned. It’s still not clear why they were assigned the unusual altitude. Regardless of why all that happened, Torricella said keeping the pilots in a Rio de Janeiro hotel room for almost a year while the investigators sort those and other questions out is not fair. "Joe and Jan have done everything asked of them and each gave three lengthy statements within roughly the first 72 hours after the accident. They have since been held in Brazil for almost seven weeks without just cause. Enough is enough. It is time that they be permitted to return home to their families," Torricella said. The preliminary report also reveals that there were dozens of unanswered radio calls between controllers and the Legacy leading up to the accident but doesn’t offer any explanation for them. It also doesn’t answer why collision avoidance gear on both airplanes apparently failed to alert their respective crews of the pending collision, according to Reuters.