Transponder Wasn't Faulty, Says Honeywell

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As two American pilots continue to be held in Brazil -- not charged with any crime, but also not allowed to leave the country -- questions about the apparent midair collision between a Legacy 600 business jet and a Boeing 737 over the Amazon jungle on Sept. 29 remain unresolved. All 154 aboard the 737 were killed. Honeywell said on Sunday that the transponder aboard the Legacy jet was not subject to a recent airworthiness directive that outlined deficiencies in some models, according to The New York Times. Earlier, the charter service that owns the Legacy had said it believed the transponder was subject to the AD. The directive, which takes effect Oct. 17, noted that some Honeywell transponders can erroneously go into standby mode if the flight crew takes longer than five seconds to change the ATC code. That, states the AD, could "result in improper functioning of the traffic alert and collision avoidance system."

Moreover, a Honeywell spokesman told the Times that the company had long ago advised its customers of the problem and had issued a software upgrade to fix it. The pilots have repeatedly denied accusations that they purposefully turned off the transponder. The Brazil crash is only the second fatal midair of two aircraft equipped with collision-avoidance systems. The first was the collision of two jets over Germany in July 2002.