Brazilian Congress Blames Legacy Pilots For Midair

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An inquiry conducted by the lower house in Brazil's Congress just concluded U.S. pilots Jean Paul Paladino and Joseph Lepore, who were flying the Embraer Legacy operated by U.S.-based ExcelAire during a midair collision last September with a Gol Transportes Aereos Boeing 737-800, are partially to blame for the fatal accident. Meanwhile, another congressional inquiry, along with an investigation by Brazil's accident investigation team, continues. The completed report found Paladino and Lepore were insufficiently trained in operating the Legacy and negligently disregarded ICAO and Brazilian aviation regulations, engaged in "imprudent handling of the aircraft" and had "poor situational awareness." The inquiry concluded the two pilots should be charged with involuntary manslaughter by having placed an aircraft or vessel at risk. Additionally, the inquiry determined three air traffic controllers had committed the same crime, while one controller should be indicted on voluntary manslaughter. The two pilots and three controllers could face sentences of up to 12 years; the lone controller faces up to 20 years.

Yet the Brazilian Congress' report -- established to look into existing problems with the country's ATC system and corruption, as well as the midair collision -- has come under fire, especially from the body's opposition party. Critics of the filed report point to a lack of technical expertise on the part of those supposedly elected officials lacking an industry background and conducting the inquiry. No timetable was set for the Brazilian Senate to complete its inquiry; the third investigation, being conducted by Brazil's Centre for Investigation of Aeronautical Accidents (CENIPA), is expected to be finished by late August or early September.