In advance of this week’s final report from the Brazilian House of Representatives about last year’s midair over the Amazon rainforest, Brazilian Representative, Marco Maia, author of the commission report, let it slip that the collision occurred because the Legacy pilots turned off the aircraft’s transponder.
How or why this happened is of little concern to Congressman Maia.
The ruling does seem oddly coincidental with an Embraer warning also issued to Legacy pilots last week not to use the aircraft’s footrests lest they turn of the transponder by mistake.
From the circus of justice that seems to represent the Brazilian government in this investigation, however, I think it’s time for Joe and Jan and Excelair and all the rest of us to move on. The Brazilian bureaucrats have made it pretty clear that nothing short of lynching these guys for the tragedy will suffice.
Our man in Brazil, Marcelo Alves, said Representative Maia is one of the Congressmen that called Daniel Bachmann “a liar,” referring to Bachmann’s testimony in support of the U.S. pilots before a Brazilian court a few months ago. Bachman, who just happened to be sitting in the cabin of the Legacy when the collision occurred, had a bird’s eye view of the setting both before and after the event.
Maia also said that since the commission was unable to interview the pilots – I don’t believe they were ever formally asked, were they - he could not determine if the transponder was turned-off intentionally or not.
But let’s be serious here. What possible difference could it make to anyone any longer whether this bunch of Brazilian bureaucrats thinks the U.S. pilots are guilty or not? What difference does it make whether they believe the Legacy pilots turned the transponder off on purpose or not?
Most of us silly Americans thought the impetus of the investigation last year was to learn why the collision occurred in order to prevent it from happening again. Perhaps the Embraer bulletin last week did just that.
So who in their right mind will believe anything the Brazilian government has to say about the collision, or the state of aviation there, despite having one of the largest commercial aircraft manufacturers – Embraer - in their back yard?
It’s time anyone who flies into Brazil – flight crew or passengers - begin asking the questions everyone is pretending don’t need to be mentioned.
How can Brazil gurantee the safety of their airspace today? Why did the Brazilian government arrest some senior air traffic control union officials when they tried to protest the state of the ATC system there? Why aren’t we treating Brazilian airspace the same way we do some third-world systems in Africa?
My guess is that like most aviation accidents, we’re going to find out soon that a number of problems will point to the cause of the collision.
But what has the Brazilian government done to fix their piece of problem? Nothing. Not so much as even an endorsement of a lateral offset to cover everyone’s hide.
And yet aircraft from all over the world, both airline and corporate, continue to fly to Brazil hoping they and their passengers don’t become tomorrow’s headlines.
If this continues, we’ve all be just as responsible for the state of ATC in Brazil as the people who run the system in South America’s largest country.