Groups Fear Effect Of Pilot Prosecution

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The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) are calling on Brazilís federal police to drop criminal charges against two American pilots, in part because of concerns about the effect of the prosecution on future crash investigations. Jan Paladino and Joe Lepore, who flew the Embraer 600 that collided with a Gol Airlines Boeing 737 over Brazil last Sept. 29, will likely face charges based on their alleged failure to notice that their transponder wasnít working. In a joint news release, NBAA and FSF say the charges are premature because the crash investigation isnít complete. They also say the decision to pursue criminal charges could put a chill on accident investigations, not only in Brazil but all over the world. "We are deeply concerned that the criminalization of the investigation into the tragic accident of September 2006 could have a negative impact on aviation safety worldwide,Ē FSF CEO Bill Voss said. While itís not the first time criminal charges have been laid in relation to an air crash, the news release says this case could be precedent-setting for its international circumstances. The worry is that the specter of criminal proceedings will cause those involved in accidents to withhold information that might be crucial to the prevention of future mishaps. ďWe are disappointed that Brazilian police officials continue down the road of emphasizing 'criminalization' in the wake of last year's tragic accident, instead of recognizing the premium the international aviation community places on investigating the root causes of an accident, so that safety improvements can be made," said NBAA President Ed Bolen.