Luck can change in an instant. Pilot Joe Lepore and copilot Jan Paladino were cruising along at 37,000 feet in the cockpit of the brand-new Embraer Legacy they were delivering from the factory in Brazil to its new home base on New York’s Long Island.
Gol Transportes Aéreos Flight
Joseph Lepore and Jan Paladino, the pilot and copilot of the ExcelAire Legacy 600 involved in a midair with a Boeing 737 operated by Brazil’s Gol on September 29, returned to New York on December 9. Brazilian authorities confiscated their passports after the accident. The two pilots were allowed to leave Brazil only after their attorney in Brazil successfully filed for habeas corpus.
In the wake of the September 29 midair in Brazil between an Embraer Legacy 600 and a Gol Airlines 737 and the subsequent disruptions in ATC services that have caused major delays in commercial aircraft operations in the country, the president of Brazil replaced the chief of its air traffic management system.
A Federal Court in Brazil today ordered the release of the passports of the two U.S. pilots of the Embraer Legacy 600 involved in the September 29 collision with a Gol Airlines 737 over the Amazon. The Federal Regional Court of the First Region of Brazil said that it had unanimously agreed to return the passports of Joseph Lepore, 42, of Bay Shore, N.Y., and Jan Paladino, 34, of Westhampton Beach, N.Y. effective in 72 hours.
Less than one day after a joint letter from the NBAA and several other associations was sent to Brazilian prosecutors thanking them for their part in getting the “criminal authority” to release two U.S. corporate pilots, Brazilian federal police on Friday charged the two airmen with “endangering air safety” in the September 29 collision of their Embraer Legacy 600 with a Gol Airlines 737.
Nearly two months after the worst aviation accident in Brazil’s history, the midair between a Boeing 737-800 operated by Brazilian airline Gol and a Legacy operated by Long Island, N.Y.-based ExcelAire, a series of questions still remains about the cause of the accident. Furthermore, as we go to press, the two U.S. pilots of the Legacy are still being detained in Brazil.
The NTSB is sending investigators to Brazil to assist in the investigation of the September 29 midair between a Boeing 737 and an Embraer Legacy 600. NTSB senior investigator William English will serve as the U.S. accredited representative, accompanied by two Safety Board investigators and representatives from the FAA and Boeing.
At press time, two lawsuits had been filed in the aftermath of the September 29 midair collision over the Amazon jungle. Each suit lodges claims against U.S. charter operator ExcelAire, the two pilots of the Legacy 600 involved in the accident and avionics manufacturer Honeywell.
Boeing 737-8EH and Embraer EMB 135BJ Legacy 600, Peixoto Azevedo, Brazil, Sept. 29, 2006–Legacy N600XL, operated by ExcelAire, was involved in a midair collision with GOL Flight 1907, a Boeing 737, at about 37,000 feet. The Embraer landed at Cachimbo Air Base; none of the seven people aboard was injured. The 737, en route to Brasilia, crashed in the jungle and all six crew members and 149 passengers were killed.
I write this on October 15, my 60th birthday. I have tried not to be flippant about any aspect of this story. I am unceasingly aware that my astonishing luck to be alive today coincided with the horrible fate of 154 people who plunged to their deaths on September 29.