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Mon, May 14, 2007

NBAA, Flight Safety Foundation Denounce Brazilian Ruling On Gol Midair

Groups "Disappointed" With Criminalization Of Tragic Accident

The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) denounced a decision last week by Brazilian criminal authorities to assign criminal responsibility to two pilots involved in a mid-air collision between a Gol Airlines Boeing 737 and a Legacy business airplane over Brazil in September of 2006.

"We 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 and CEO Ed Bolen.

FSF President and CEO Bill Voss echoed Bolen's statement. "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. We call on the police and other authorities to resist the pressure to prosecute and allow investigators to complete their work, so that the flying public can feel safe in the skies over Brazil and every other country."

As Aero-News reported, Federal investigators in Brazil concluded last week the two American pilots of an Embraer Legacy 600 business jet should be held liable for the September 29, 2006 midair collision that brought down a Gol Airlines 737 over the Amazon. Investigators determined pilots Joseph Lepore and Jan Paladino failed to notice the Legacy's transponder was not transmitting, until after their aircraft and the airliner clipped each other.

Bolen and Voss maintained that the decision has the potential to set a precedent for criminal charges to be applied to any pilot or party involved in international aviation accidents or incidents, in effect causing parties in accidents to hide information that is essential to improving safety.

The two cited another concern: The decision to indict the Legacy pilots prior to the conclusion of the safety-oriented aviation accident investigation does not reflect a fair or balanced view of all factors involved in the accident.

Voss added: "We recognize the need to ultimately see justice served. However, because the Brazilians have elected to proceed with a criminal investigation without the benefit of having concluded an objective aviation safety investigation, we are very concerned about whether any judicial proceedings could be conducted in a balanced or impartial fashion."



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