US Pilot Association Urges Brazil to Promptly Free American Pilots

    The International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Association (IAOPA) has called on Brazilian authorities to release two U.S. pilots detained in the country following the midair collision between an Embraer Legacy business jet and a Gol Airlines Boeing 737.

    "This tragic accident saddened the civil aviation community worldwide and has galvanized us to discover and correct its causes," IAOPA President Phil Boyer wrote to Brazil’s Minister of Justice, Márcio Thomaz Bastos.

    "But, detaining the two pilots will only hinder the investigation."

    The Brazilian government is conducting a criminal investigation simultaneously with the accident investigation. It seized the passports of the two U.S. citizens flying the Legacy jet to prevent them from leaving the country during the investigation.

    Boyer noted that international agreements and guidance discourage the "inappropriate" use of safety information, including use for criminal prosecution.

    "The presumption of criminal intent in conjunction with an aircraft accident investigation will stifle and thwart the objective of the investigation," Boyer said.

    He also noted that since no criminal charges have been brought against the pilots in the accident, "there is apparently little evidence that would indicate a criminal act has been committed, [and] therefore they should be released."

    IAOPA is a federation of 64 autonomous, nongovernmental, national general aviation organizations. IAOPA is the official voice of GA before international bodies such as ICAO.

    IAOPA headquarters are in Frederick, Maryland (USA), with regional vice presidents in Switzerland, South Africa, Colombia, Brazil, and Japan.

    Last week, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s (AOPA) president, Phil Boyer, sent the following letter to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice:

    Dear Secretary Rice:
    The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) representing 410,000 US pilots, requests your intervention in securing the release of two American pilots currently being detained by Brazilian authorities investigating the crash of Gol Airlines Flight #1907.

    These US citizens are pilots for ExcelAire and were involved in the September 29, 2006 mid-air collision between a GOL Airlines Boeing 737 and an Embraer Legacy business jet. 

    To date, the pilots have been detained for more than seven weeks without criminal charges or explanation, which is in violation of international aviation treaties. 

    It appears from media reports that the accident investigation could take another ten months to complete, placing these US pilots in jeopardy of being detained indefinitely.

    AOPA is not taking a position on the accident or the investigative process; however, it is critical that due process be followed.  These US citizen pilots should be treated fairly under the law, and the US State Department must take action to obtain their release and their return to the US.

    AOPA urges you to intervene with the Brazilian government to facilitate the release of these Americans to allow them to return home safely.


    • Show Comments (9)

    • Rick

      Unfair to Boyer. Takes time for a magazine like his to spool up. HeÀ‚´s a former ABC news exec, so he understands media. Maybe including when to speak and when to keep quiet. Others should have done the same….

    • Keith Peshak

      Phil is always the absolute last
      By the time that Phil Boyer discovers something, absolutely everybody else on the planet, without exception, has confirmed it independently. By the time The Phil proclaims, it must be true.

    • alltheway

      Today’s IHT has an article by the NYT reporter on the exec jet @

    • Norman Kemble

      chc You ARE RIGHT
      I mean ater all I only have as much JET time as the Legacy captain has TOTAL time……Been in aviation over 30 years……….Been around the world several times ……..Been to South America, heck been to all continents except 2…Brazil a dozen times……..(BTW I heard that this was the first time either pilot flew in Brazilian airspace or South America for a matter of fact….talk about inexeperience!!!) But, NOOOOO, I obviously (and neither does anyone else on the board) have your experience…..Whatever that is…….Do you have any experience in aviation???? Other than the obvious movies or tv shows????? comic books????? Is your aviation experience at least Ernest Gann or D’Aubexberry (sic)??????? Stop being a mouthpiece for someone else.

    • Stephen

      Hey Costinha
      Whats wrong with the CIA anyways? There are over 80 operatives working in the triborder region of your country. Why, well you fiqure it out boy ! However as “alltheway” asks? What in your pea brain mind would you think that the operatives were doing ? You don’t have an answer,do you? Of course not!!!!

    • alltheway

      Costinha, question for you .. what were the “CIa operatives ” doing ?

    • Costinha

      Put the CIA operatives (the americans)
      where they belong….IN JAIL!

    • ch.c.

      Ooops…..previous comment in wrong place !
      sorry for the error !

    • ch.c.

      strange reasoning !
      If experience or inexperience is what makes someone eventually responsible or not due to their In Command or Bad/No Command, here are facts the Association could heave easily found ny themselves, had they been fair and impartial in their reasoning :

      – ” Lepore, a commercial pilot for more than 20 years from Bay Shore, N.Y., has logged more than 8,000 hours of flight time while Paladino, of Westhampton Beach, N.Y., has more than 6,400 hours of flight time and has been a commercial pilot for a decade.”

      – the Brazilian ATC was A) New, B) Inexperienced, and C) INEPT….as per his instructor !

      The end results being that the finger should not be pointed to the US pilots, should the Association follow their own reasoning !

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