AVwebFlash Complete Issue: News Alert

January 22, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff

Controllers Share Blame in Brazilian Midair

On Sunday, Brazilian lead aviation accident investigator Renato Sayao for the first time acknowledged air traffic controllers share some of the blame for the Sept. 29 midair that killed 154 people when a Legacy business jet collided with a Gol Airlines 737 over the Amazon jungle. But the Legacy pilots -- Joseph Lepore and Jan Paladino of New York, both of whom survived the collision along with their five passengers – might not be off the hook entirely. According to The Associated Press, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office said both the pilots and controllers were likely at fault, though she stopped short of saying if criminal charges will be filed against Lepore and Paladino. The prosecutor's office cannot press charges against the Brazilian controllers since they are military personnel; instead it can only submit findings to military justice officials, who would then pursue any further action. If convicted, the controllers could spend up to 12 years in prison on homicide charges and exposing an aircraft to danger. The latter charge would be for failure to divert the Boeing after the Legacy disappeared from radar, the prosecutor's office said. The spokeswoman did not know if authorities will press criminal charges against the U.S. pilots, but police have already booked the pair for exposing an aircraft to danger.