Honeywell, ExcelAire Respond
Both companies were quick to respond. "Honeywell is not aware of any evidence that indicates that its transponder on the Embraer Legacy was not functioning as designed or that Honeywell was responsible for the accident," Honeywell spokesman Paul Loughran told AVweb on Tuesday. "The National Transportation Safety Board and the Brazilian authorities are still investigating the tragic crash and have not yet determined a probable cause." Honeywell's statement added that the company had not yet been served with the complaint filed in federal court in New York and could not comment on specific allegations in that lawsuit. ExcelAire also said the lawsuit is premature. The facts surrounding the accident have not yet been fully investigated and established in a comprehensive accident investigation, according to Robert Torricella, a Miami-based aviation attorney representing the ExcelAire pilots. "In the face of recent confirmations that air traffic control cleared and directed the ExcelAire Legacy to fly to Manaus at 37,000 feet, repeated suggestions that ExcelAire's pilots were flying at the wrong altitude are baseless," Torricella said in a statement e-mailed to AVweb yesterday. The ExcelAire pilots are still being detained in Brazil. Torricella said the pilots were following instructions from air traffic control. "According to international aviation regulations and norms, air traffic control directives take precedence over a written flight plan and those directives effectively amend the written flight plan," he said. "It is the flight plan cleared by air traffic control at the time of departure -- and not the prior written flight plan -- that governs the conduct of the flight. Here, the flight plan cleared by air traffic control at the time of departure required the Legacy to fly all the way to Manaus at 37,000 feet and, absent contrary directives from air traffic control, the Legacy was obligated to follow its cleared flight plan. As the findings of the investigation are made public, we are confident that ExcelAire's pilots will be exonerated." ExcelAire is based in Ronkonkoma, N.Y., and has pledged its full cooperation in the investigations currently underway in Brazil. "ExcelAire expresses its deepest sympathies to the families that lost loved ones in the tragic accident of September 29, 2006, in Brazil," the statement said.