May 9, 2007
American pilots blamed for Gol crash
According to this BBC report, the Federal Police have recommended criminal prosecution of the two American pilots involved in the mid-air collision that killed 154 people last September. The article cites their being unaware that their transponder was malfunctioning as the source of their culpability (and not, apparently, flying at an altitude different from that of their original flight plan). Certainly in a US civil proceeding, this would be worth some small percent of contributory negligence, but they are facing serious criminal charges in Brazil.
Anyone who has followed the myriad revelations over the last eight months of utter confusion; repeated, sometimes near-fatal errors; poor morale; and ridiculous pay and work conditions of Brazilian air traffic controllers (who work under the Air Force) must wonder whether the pilots can get a fair trial as the Brazilian government reels from controller scandal. On the scale of blame, it would seem that the controllers who erroneously cleared the American pilots to fly at the incorrect 37,000 ft altitude plus the several others who subsequently failed to notice the mistake plus the poorly implemented radar and radio system that prevented contact with the pilots until it was too late, bear the brunt of it. Barring radio contact with some tower which noticed the transponder was not transponding, I don't know how they would have known that or how they could be blamed for the deaths because of this. I think that in the civil lawsuits already filed in American courts evidence of the past year's massive incompetence in Brazilian air traffic control will result in minor contributory guilt at most, but I confess to little confidence that a nationalistic Brazilian criminal jury will think the same way.
Posted by johnn at May 9, 2007 1:46 PM
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