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Legacy pilots blamed for mid-air collision with Gol 737

A congressional inquiry in Brazil has concluded that the ExcelAire Embraer Legacy's pilots, US citizens Jean Paul Paladino and Joseph Lepore, carry most of the blame for the aircraft's fatal collision last year with a Gol Transportes Aereos Boeing 737-800.

Meanwhile, the work of the technical accident investigation team (CENIPA) continues, with the draft report expected in September.

According to the findings, both pilots had insufficient knowledge to operate the Legacy's systems - especially the aircraft's avionics suite.

The committee, at Brazil's lower house, found both crew members were negligent in observing standing international air traffic regulations, aggravated by "imprudent handling of the aircraft" and "poor situational awareness".

Consequently, the report recommends that both pilots be charged with involuntary manslaughter having infringed Article 261 of Brazil's Penal Code - placing an aircraft or vessel at risk - a charge that can lead to an eight to 12-year prison sentence.

The committee also finds that three APP Brasília air traffic controllers are guilty of involuntary manslaughter under the same article.

The hearing has recommended that a fourth controller be indicted for voluntary manslaughter, a charge that can lead to a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

Two congressional inquiries - the one that has just reported and the other still under way in Brazil's Senate - were set up to investigate Brazil's air transport system, allegations of corruption within Brazil's airport authority and the ExcelAire/Gol mid-air collision.

Both have drawn local criticism, not least for the lack of technical knowledge of aviation displayed by members.

Indeed, shortly after the report was submitted and read to the lower house, opposition party members stated that it did not cover many relevant factors, such as persistent technical difficulties experienced in Brazil's air traffic control system.

According to Lt Brig Juniti Saito, commander of the Brazilian air force, the Centre for Investigation of Aeronautical Accidents (CENIPA) investigation is expected to be finished by late August or early September.


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