ExcelAire, the Long Island-based company that owns the Legacy jet that collided on September 29 against a Boeing 737 over the Amazon jungle provoking Brazil’s worst plane crash ever with the death of all 154 people aboard, will be sued by at least nine of the victim’s relatives.

    The plaintiffs have announced today in Brazil that they have hired a group of American lawyers specialized in aviation accidents and they intend to file an action for damages in an American court. The suit should be filed in New York in the next 30 days. .

    The U.S. lawyers, who are already in Brazil and who have joined two Brazilian attorneys, say they believe they have enough evidence to hold American pilots Joseph Lepore and Jan Paul Palladino responsible for the accident, including the fact that they didn’t follow the flight plan as they were supposed to.

    Brazilian lawyer Leonardo Amarante told reporters that he is going to bring an action against Gol Airlines next Monday in order to force the company to pay alimony to Juliana Sarmento, whose husband, André Fontoura, was killed in the accident.

    Amarante has also announced that he is requesting that the Brazilian Air Force Command hand over information on the accident investigations. He has threatened to appeal to the Supreme Court if his request is not granted.

    Meanwhile, federal police chief Renato Sayão, who is in charge of the crash’s inquiry. said today that he favors the idea that the two pilots remain in Brazil while the investigations proceed. The judicial decision has been to keep the Americans in Brazil indefinitely.

    "I’m in favor that they stay until the inquiry is finished because we still don’t know if they are guilty or innocent," said Sayão.

    According to the Brazilian  Defense Minister, Waldir Pires, however, the presence or nor of the ExcelAire pilots is immaterial for the success of the inquiry. Pires made it also clear that he won’t take any action to challenge the Justice’s determination.

    Sayão says that he still needs to answer four questions. First, he wants to know if the pilots followed all the international flight rules and procedures. Second, he needs more information on how the Brazilian air control system was working when the accident occurred.

    Another question is to know if there was any mechanical failure that might have impaired the pilots’ action. Finally, Sayão wants to find out if there was a conjunction of negative factors that conspired against the two Americans.

    The police chief intends to interview the pilots next week. This Wednesday, he met former Justice Minister, José Carlos Dias, the lawyer who is representing Lepore and Palladino. He also had a meeting with members of the Cenipa (Aviation Accidents Investigation and Prevention Center).

    For Sayão, however, the investigations will only  go forward after he gets the results from the Gol’s black box and the report on the transponder operation. It’s believed that the transponder in the Legacy was off. If the device were working properly it should have prevented the accident.

    Pires, the Defense minister, told reporters he does not believe that the Boeing accident will become a diplomatic headache for the Brazilian government. "I do not foresee any diplomatic problem because we are going to comply with everything that’s contemplated by international treaties and the Brazilian law," stated the minister.

    Lepore and Paladin had their passports retained by the Brazilian authorities and some American congressmen have been pressuring the US State Department to negotiate the release of the pilots with the Brazilian government.

    Pires has discarded the possibility of any action by the Brazilian government to alter court orders: "We respect the judicial process and any judicial decision will only by changed by another judicial decision."

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    • Show Comments (4)

    • Jony

      reality check
      written by jony, 2006-10-17 01:46:14

      The reality of all is that “media circus” is everywhere in the world and certainly not any different in Brazil. Press leaks in most cases are done by incompetence or inexperience of an individual within a department rather than an orchestrated effort. Ironically, the same “media” quite often contributes to insure the transparence of the due process.There is plenty of bias nationalism to go around… without a doubt; The truth of the matter is that at this point of the investigation data-collecting phase, all the indicators are not so favorable to the small jet. The job of the government and international investigators is to go thru all the technical evidence available to reconstruct what really occurred on the skies above the Amazon forest. The Brazilian authorities have at their hands the SIVAM system, which has been in operation now for about 12 years. The following insert is a public information description about the SIVAM SYSTEM that by the way the US is very much familiar with, and hopefully it would bring accuracy and transparency into this tragic accident. “SIVAM infrastructure comprises three regional surveillance centers in Manaus, Porto Velho, Belem and a general coordination center in Brasilia. All centers have stations and servers to process incoming data from satellites, specially equipped aircraft, and ground sensors. The region’s environmental data is delivered to the centers via a Network Systems of geostationary satellite, located above the equator. The transponder dedicated to SIVAM is in the satellite and the data derives from an array of 424 small aperture terminals with the Brazilian government planning to install 900 more terminals. The terminal sites allow personal computer (PC), telephone and fax access to the four centers in addition to transmitting data. Authorized users at the terminals can access a ‘catalog’ of information products. The four centers receive and archives a steady stream of data to create the information products from SIVAM sensors, multisensor and earth observation satellites. As part of the SIVAM system is an upgraded satellite ground stations for the INPE (the Brazilian institute for space research). The earth observation satellites include the Landsat 7, SPOT 4, Radarsat, and ERS-1 and -2. Data also comes from three additional satellites: GOES, a weather satellite accompanied by three ground stations; TIROS, a polar orbiting satellite that provides weather and atmospheric data and includes a ground station in Manaus; and SCD-1, a Brazilian satellite that acquires data from ground stations, such as water levels and rainfall. Information from these satellites largely serves to monitor the Amazon’s rain forest environment, but it also can be accessed by the region’s air traffic control.Twenty-five ground radar sites are linked to the Manaus center by a Comtech/Alcatel satcom system. Five sites that have Thomson CSF radars are integrated into the SIVAM network. In addition, Raytheon is supplying seven ASR-23 solid state, L-band, two-dimensional (azimuth and range) primary radars with integrated monopulse secondary radar, and seven stand-alone Condor Mk 2 monopulse secondary radars. They are 3D-capable to monitor aircraft that are not equipped with transponders. The radar sites, along with five additional sites, also serve as telecommunications centers, incorporating both VHF and UHF transceivers. The Raytheon VHF digital radios provide voice-only, and the Rohde and Schwarz UHF/VHF radios can transmit voice and/or data. They all transmit to Manaus via Comtech/Alcatel satcom. The Manaus air surveillance center is equipped with a “blended” ATC system, to make the center’s addition to Brazil’s air traffic control as seamless as possible.”

    • arrgggggg

      I guess that class action suite needs to be redirected to the ATCs now….

    • Márcio Osório

      Nor can the lawyers. Nor can the victims. If the real culprits won’t get away with it, they will fly away with it.

    • Stephen

      Absurd
      The federal cops can’t even get the names of the air traffic controllers that were on duty the day of the accident and interview them! And yes it was a terrible accident unlike what some of the Brazilian media portray that the American pilots were playing “Chicken”. I have been flying over this region for years and many times the air traffic control folks are “Sleeping on the Mayo” as they say here in Brazil.

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