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Tue, Nov 07, 2006

Families Of GOL Airlines Crash Victims File Lawsuit

ExcelAire And Honeywell Named As Defendants

Lawyers representing the families of the crash victims of Gol Airlines flight 1907 sued both ExcelAire and Honeywell in a US District court in Brooklyn Monday.

The suit states ExcelAire pilots -- still in Brazil even as the investigation continues -- were flying at the wrong altitude, and that the Honeywell-built transponder was not working. The lawsuit specifies had the transponder installed in the Embraer Legacy business jet been working, the airliner's collision avoidance systems would have warned the pilots in time to avoid the mid-air suspected of causing the crash.

The suit does not specify exactly what damages the plaintiffs seek.

A spokeswoman for ExcelAire told the Associated Press it was preparing a reply. Honeywell said it wouldn't comment on any specific allegations.

Press speculation regarding the cause of the accident has run rampant while continued political in-fighting between Brazil's  defense and police agencies places in doubt the veracity of any investigation.

The Brazilian defense ministry -- responsible for air traffic control -- refuses to cooperate with the country's police forces. Brazil's top police official has publicly accused the defense ministry of covering up information that might incriminate controllers handling the two aircraft the night of the accident.

The lawsuit is apparently based on early Brazilian press reports stating the US pilots were flying the Legacy at the wrong altitude. Further speculation from the press had the pair turning off the sleek jet's transponder while exploring its performance envelope.

Most recently, Brazil's Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper claims it acquired a flight recorder transcript showing the US pilots were flying at an altitude assigned by air traffic controllers -- the same altitude assigned to Gol flight 1907.

That airliner crashed in the Amazon rain forest killing all 154 aboard while the Legacy landed nearby with damage to its wing.

The US pilots were ordered by a Brazilian court to surrender their passports a few days after the accident. They remain in Brazil as the investigation continues.

FMI: www.brasilemb.org

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