Aviation Groups Applaud Release

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European and North American aviation organizations are applauding the release of pilots Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino from Brazil and renewing their call for criminal proceedings to be left out of the investigation of the accident. Lepore and Paladino were flying a Legacy 600 business jet that collided with a Gol Airlines Boeing 737 Sept. 29. And, while it might be too late in this case, the Flight Safety Foundation, the National Business Aviation Association, the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllersí Associations, the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation and the International Federation of Air Line Pilotsí Associations say the threat of criminal prosecution will hamper investigations because those involved will be less forthcoming with information surrounding a crash if they think it might be used against them in court. "We recognize the right of judicial authorities to commence a criminal investigation, but it must be independent of the safety investigation, and the evidence obtained by the safety investigation may not be used by the criminal investigations," the letter reads. The groups also point out that crash investigations can take years to conclude, while criminal cases can be dealt with more quickly and that means that criminal convictions "proven" in court could be invalidated by the findings of the investigation. The group says putting the emphasis on blame, rather than cause, could hamper accident prevention efforts. "We understand the need for a grieving public to want to see justice served, and we do not seek to put anyone above the law," the group's letter says. "However, criminal investigations into aviation accidents like the one on Sept. 29 are at odds with efforts to discover root causes of accidents and avoid future mistakes."