They’re out!

By Robert Mark on December 8th, 2006

The aircraft carrying U.S. pilots Joe LePore and Jan Paladino has left Brazilian airspace on its way back to the states. Welcome back guys.

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22 Responses to “They’re out!”

  1. t Says:

    Doesn’t matter.They were negligent. They didn’t follow the flightplan (amateurs!) and will probably face 1-3 years in a Brazilian prison. If they have the chops to return and face their punishment which I doubt. In fact I doubt you have the chops to publish this comment.

  2. Rob Mark Says:

    Crazy Americans. We still expect people to offer proof before we take them seriously.

    And your proof about the negligence charge would be what exactly?

  3. t Says:

    They didn’t follow the flightplan. Thats the proof, although you never need proof when it suits you (WMDs in Iraq?). I don’t think you lot are crazy…just arrogant. You take the moral high ground and think you are immune from all laws just because you have flea ridden eagle on your passport. Stick to your toy planes Rob…leave the flying of the jet liners to us big boys.

  4. Rob Mark Says:

    Interesting comments. I thought you were a pilot when you wrote your first message. Obviously I was wrong.

    I just hope no one from any country loses their life while they figure out the mess the Brazilian ATC system is in. That’s the real point here, not simply whether they can make a case against the two U.S. pilots.

  5. t Says:

    It seems to me you are an American first and a pilot second (you were an a**hole anyway from what I’ve heard from colleages). I am not saying Joe and Jan are 100% responsible, far from it. The system is in a mess and hopefully some good will come of this. My anger comes from idiots like you that assume because said pilots are American they are absolved of all blame. There are still many suspicious things that went on that day with those 2, they are not as innocent as you lot believe and they are not telling the whole story. That much is obvious from passenger statements on the jet. Its sad to me that those poor pilots and passengers on that plane, will not be around this Christmas, while idiots like you club together in cyber space and congratulate yourselves because Joe and Jan have returned home. You disgust me.

  6. Rob Mark Says:

    Despite what my colleagues say – according to you at least – I attach my name to my comments. And if you’re going to turn this totally personal, we might as well stop wasting our time.

    I never said these two pilots were innocent … ever.

    What I said was that unless these is some proof of their negligence, they should be allowed out of Brazil.

    You say we don’t know the whole story.

    Here’s an opportunity to tell us. You have the floor.

  7. t Says:

    Why should they be allowed out of Brazil? The consensus in international law is that a State does not have any obligation to surrender an alleged criminal to a foreign state, as one principle of sovereignty is that every state has legal authority over the people within its borders. You do not seem to have a grasp on the seriousness of this. The fact remains that they were at the controls of a jet that was involved in the crash of an airliner. They had to remain for the purpose of the investigation. If I was involved in a major crash on a US highway in which many people were killed, and there was a suspicion of my causing it, as a non-American do you really think I would be allowed to leave the US? No. These Brazilians are not a bunch of monkeys living in trees, they have their laws aswell (many of which are a damn sight more democratic than the USAs) which must be followed. Certainly Joe Sharkey didn’t help by calling the pilots ‘heroes’, (while a brand new Boeing and 150 men, women and children lay scattered across the jungle) aswell as shooting his mouth off about the investigation and the way it was conducted. And of course the biggest problem is that Joe and Jan are what’s known as a ‘flight risk’ (in more ways than one eh?) which means there is probable cause to withhold the passport. Americans are well known in the world to flout these rules. Once they go back to the US they never return for trial, despite international treaties (Kissenger anyone?). Perhaps Brazil should start its own ‘Extraordinary Rendition’ program.

  8. Rob Mark Says:

    Thank you for posting this. Despite the fact – I must admit – that your tone can be a bit cantankerous my friend, you have made some good points here.

    I’m going to think on this a bit before I respond.

  9. Drake Ferruzzi Says:

    Dear Mr. Mark,

    I was wondering i have heard that the controllers cleared them to fly at 37,000 ft but they had filed a flight plan for 36,000. Will this hold up in court and could these air traffic controllers face criminal charges? Also will the United States protect these pilots from imprisionment if the Air Traffic Controllers did in fact clear them to fly at 37,000 ft.

    Thanks, Drake

  10. Drake Ferruzzi Says:

    T I totally do not know if you just hate these two american pilots or if you just hate americans, but i really do not know how reliable their air traffic control system is in Brazil. And if in fact the controllers cleared them to fly at 37,000 WHEN they had filed a flight plan otherwise i would listen to the air traffic controllers. I do not in fact know what happened and neither do you obviously, you just think you are a pilot. So next time you post something you should get your facts straight. I would just hope our American pilots get a fair trial just like any other foreign pilot would in the U.S.

    Sincerely, Drake

  11. t Says:

    That flight plan had them flying at 3 different legs at different alts. They were given permission to fly at 37K, but not for that leg. Obviously there were other issues with the Brazil ATC, (shift change and all), but that has been taken into account. Now 3 Brazilian ATC personel have been charged (along with the 2 pilots). I don’t really care what nationality the 5 are, I just object to people (and countries) trying to dive out of their responsibilities and using nationality to say “I’m immune and not at fault”. Why was that transponder turned off? Because those pilots were playing around with the new jet. They also refused to answer any Federal police questions in Brazil…so how can we know the truth when they won’t talk.

  12. t Says:

    I’d also like to comment on how this blog (ang others) have been used to bitch about the Brazilian ATC system (which is in need of change), and yet I see nothing on this blog about the sh*t stae of the ATC system of the mighty USA. Brazil is a country almost the same size of the US, it shares 10 international borders compared to the USA’s 2. When you look at the GDP of the country compared to the richest country in the world, then it could be said they do an OK job. I want to know why there is no discussion here about BA2166 that was nearly involved in an identical incident (October 2006) after take off from Tampa. Thank god the pilot didn’t trust the US ATC and relied on his instrument warning instead. The other night in Seattle saw chaos too, because the US FAA is more interested in money than safety. Get your own house in order before criticizing others!

  13. Drake Ferruzzi Says:

    And how much more traffic does U.S. Airspace have then Brazil?

  14. t Says:

    See, you sad sad sad little Americans, you can’t accept any criticism, even if it might help safeguard US flyers.
    I suggest you get your facts straight before posting Drake. They were NOT cleared to fly at that altitude. In fact, there are comments from the passengers of their plane that they were not even at the controls when the collision occurred. And what about the TRANSPONDER Drake? You, however assume they must have because they are American. How pathetic you are to be so concerned about the trial of these 2 while ignoring the true consequence of what is Brazils worst air disaster ever. You Americans disgust me, and yet you expect the whole world to weep with you because of 9/11. Not me.

  15. Drake Ferruzzi Says:

    T you do not even have the class to put your name down. And you didnt even answer the question i asked instead you just gave me some lame ass excuse basically saying you hate all americans. You say that Brazil has 10 international boarders but yet i bet majority of your international flights are probably coming to the U.S. Stay off the board if you are just going to try to make some insults about americans.


  16. Rob Mark Says:

    Seems like things have been interesting while I was away.

    Well T, you do have a way of getting people’s attention. I actually agreed with you for awhile, even to some extent about Joe Sharkey’s firey comments. But then I wasn’t on the airplane like Joe. If I had been, I might be sounding like him too.

    The shame of all this is that you make some valid points that make me realize we are not as far apart in what we believe as you might think. You really must be a controller from somewhere, I think. That would explain a lot. Perhaps an ex-PATCO guy?

    Unfortunately, you’re tone here has the same effects on everyoen who reads them as you say Joe Sharkey’s did on you. People don’t hear your point because you’re so angry.

    Tell me how spitting out all this anti-America venom has accomplished anything other than make you feel good? But maybe that all you really want here. My guess is Drake and I aren’t quite as focused on attention as on fixing the problem if we can.

    For what it’s worth, I think anyone who looks at how many near misses there have been in Chicago and Los Angeles alone realizes they are probably going to run two airplanes together one of these days here in the states.

    Let me see … I’m getting confused here. Like you, I don’t think the ATC system is perfect here in the states – very good maybe – but certainly not perfect by any means.

    And I agree with you that the ATC system in Brazil needs help too.

    So what are we arguing about? If you’re Brazilian, tell us that. It might help. If not, why not give yourself a little credibility by telling us something about you’re reasons for all this.

    If you are a pilot as you claim, you well know that the transponder could be off and the pilots would never know it in either airplane. But I don’t even think YOU believe that there was no one at the controls of the Legacy.

    Aren’t even you a little curious though about the details from the Boeing? I sure am.

    Just for the record, I approve all the messages that are posted here.

    I think you’ve had plenty of time to explain your perspective. All we’ve heard for the most part are angry ranting and ravings. I’d say either chill a bit and give us something useful, or find some blog that appreciates your emotional state.

  17. rob Says:

    On the flightplan question Drake, I can only tell you that in the case of lost communications, the Airman’s Information Manual has this to say about what a pilot is expected to do in terms of altitude, at least after an enroute radio failure …

    “(b) Altitude. At the HIGHEST of the following altitudes or flight levels FOR THE ROUTE SEGMENT BEING FLOWN:

    (1) The altitude or flight level assigned in the last ATC clearance received;

    (2) The minimum altitude (converted, if appropriate, to minimum flight level as prescribed in 14 CFR Section 91.121(c)) for IFR operations; or

    (3) The altitude or flight level ATC has advised may be expected in a further clearance …”

    If the pilot’s last clearance from ATC was FL370, they would have remianed there even if they lost radio because that is what they’ve been trained to do.

    And honestly, if the Boeing crew had lost communications at FL370, they would have done precisely the same thing.

    The system is far from perfect.

    One concept no one has mentioned though is course offsetting. Although this procedure is not required, I think it should be.

    In an example, both aircraft could be cleared along the same route like the Boeing and the Legacy were.

    But just in case, all crews fly a one-mile offset to the right. So even if they were both on course at the same altitude in opposite directions like the Boeing and the Legacy were, they would have been separated laterally by a good mile and a half just in case.

    If we want to talk about what we can do to prevent this kind of thing again, anywhere, pilots flying an offset course enroute should be mandatory.

    It’s already a common enroute procedure across the Atlantic and Pacific.

  18. t Says:

    I have resigned myself to the fact that we may never know what really happened, as long as some good will come from this is all I can hope for. Certainly no matter how much talk there is and how many lawyers are involved, it won’t bring back those people. The Brazilians aren’t even out for revenge (despite what idiots like Joe Sharkey say), and my thoughts will be with those families who will spend this Christmas without loved ones. Unfortunately, the involvement of the state department, the rantings of Mr. Sharkey, and other US politicians only serves to make the pilots look guilty and hinder a proper investigation being carried out. I’m sure an attitude of balanced co-operation would have been better than “bring our boys home now or else” cry.
    To answer Drake’s question, there is alot more air traffic in the US, but there is also a much greater ATC infrastructure too. When this ratio is applied on a per plane basis there is no excuse for the number of near misses and mistakes there actually are. Secondly, I say what I want, where I want, and how I want and nobody tells me otherwise. The US does not own the internet. If you think my rants are anti-American then my advice to you is to never leave the US as these are tame compared to what the rest of the world thinks, and incidents like the Brazil Gol disaster only cement that belief when it appears (and even if it only appears and in fact Joe and Jan are innocent) that Americans believe they have a right to escape international justice. I do not put my name to these comments because of the job that I do, but rest assured I know about aviation and don’t need some 15 year old little boy from Greenville NC telling me otherwise.

  19. t Says:

    BTW Drake..this is for you:
    written by realgivp, 2006-11-25 19:52:19

    Yes NOTAMS are posted from all countries around the world. It depends on the country with how that is done, whether by flight checks, ground checks, etc. As I have posted on a different thread, it is been at least 8 years since I flew in Brazil and at that time we knew, as did everyone else, that holes existed in the communications network, especially in the Amazon. We were briefed on this and did our research and found out where the areas were and what to expect. We knew that we had to keep a close listening watch on the frequencies and if time passed without hearing anything, to check with the center. It has finally been admitted that these holes still exist and have not been corrected. Ultimately, it falls on the pilots; after all it’s their responsibility to find, read and understand all pertinent NOTAMS. Not only that, but they must familiarize themselves with the differences between the host country and what they are familiar with in the US. Furthermore, it was the responsibility of excel to make sure that the pilots have current, adequate and appropriate training before they depart. I do not believe this happened in this instance.

    A new point that I want to make is about the change in altitude that was supposed to happen at BRS. While English is the common language in aviation, for almost the entire world it’s a second language. In many parts of the world it’s difficult to understand because of accents, communication equipment, etc. I have read over almost everything that has been written and it boils down to the controllers saying that “maintain altitude” (this was before reaching BRS {Brasília}, it was after BRS that the Legacy according to the flight plan should have descended to 36000) they meant 37000 until BRS and then the flight plan and the Legacy crew interpreting that has a clearance to maintain 37000 for the rest of the flight. Also, the initial clearance given by the ground controller seems to be an altitude of 37000. This goes to appropriate training too. Many additional questions should have been asked to assure that everyone was on the right page. The language difference has been brought up. Full situational awareness would have required questions to be asked by the Legacy crew to CINDACTA 1 about the accuracy of maintaining 37000 going in the wrong direction. This is an oddity now that RVSM is play around the world and should have set off alarm bells and had questions being asked until fully clear.

    While the NTSB transcript and the flight data recorders show that no aerobatics or wild maneuvers were done by the Legacy crew, it is my opinion that there is a serious question with regard to the time frame on communication with ATC, or the lack thereof. As I stated on another thread:

    “However, reading the NTSB report the glaring thing that comes to my attention is the length of time before any communication was attempted by the Legacy crew. There was 35 minutes with no contact before CINDACTA 1 tried to repeatedly contact the Legacy. Depending on the amount of area of control by CINDACTA 1 (or any center in any country) the amount of traffic, or even at times the winds at altitude, there will be no communication unless there is a frequency change, a change of altitude or request. That time frame does not bother me too much as it is fairly easily explained. BUT, any knowledgeable professional pilot would not let that much time go by without hearing anything from center and/or calling to make sure they did not miss a frequency change, to determine that the radios either on the plane or those of the ground controller were still working, etc. The Legacy crew did not attempt to contact the center for OVER AN HOUR (3:51pm to 4:48, a direct quote from the NTSB report.) This is a lack of training, no training or just lack of knowledge. It is also a huge loss of situational awareness. Lack of training, knowledge or situational awareness is completely acceptable for a professional pilot. This falls at the feet of excel and therefore they should be held accountable for it.”

    I also have never subscribed that the pilots be held and continue to be held. To my knowledge it is just about unprecedented. However, they and their employer, excel, must be held accountable and responsible for their actions and lack of training, just as any responsible ATC must also be held accountable. To me one of the big factors that is not being addressed is the lack of training.

  20. rob Says:

    What you say about ATC makes sense. Despite the enormous amounts of air traffic in the U.S., vs. the people who manage it, I still believe there will be a collision in our future. The numbers seem to say it will happen on the ground as well. When it happens, my guess is there will be just as much chaos here as what we’ve all dumped on the Brazilians.

    The question is how much good we can accomplish by keeping these and other really critical issues in motion.

    I’ve always thought the issue of the two U.S. pilots was completely separate from the state of Brazilian ATC.

    I was thinking about a Brasilia kind of collision occurring over central California. If it were a foreign registered aircraft involved, I think you’re right, they would not let those guys go.

    As I was saying to someone on another topic, it sounds like you’d like things to be fair … and they simply are not.

    As far as saying what you want, when you want, I agree. That’s why the blog exists. I just refuse to stand by and let people personally insult readers on any topic. Once that begins, no one hears anything else anyway.

    I too feel sad about the loss of life in Brazil as over any accident. I’d still like to know what happened in Lexington a few months ago as well.

    Since you seem to have so much information, I’m curious what you’ve heard about information from the Boeing crew … or is that totally locked up?

    And I actually have traveled outside the U.S. quite a bit since 2000. Plenty of folks hate Americans and with good reason. I don’t like defending myself in another country. Especially when I don’t think many of the U.S. positions are defendable.

  21. Drake Ferruzzi Says:

    Well T we will probably will never know what exactly happened and for the crew not responding i have no answer but as for the “some 15 year old little boy from Greenville NC telling me otherwise” comment. I may not have a pilots license due to the FAA age limit, but i do keep as current as i can on the aviation industry. I hope you stop all your raving about all americans think this and that, because they dont. But for future reference when you have a problem with someone dont take blame to the whole country and its people. Hope to see this issue resolved and justice served to the guilty.


  22. Rob Mark Says:

    Good post T

    But I’m confused about a few things you said … “controllers saying that “maintain altitude” (this was before reaching BRS {Brasília}, it was after BRS that the Legacy according to the flight plan should have descended to 36000) they meant 37000 until BRS and then the flight plan and the Legacy crew interpreting that has a clearance to maintain 37000 for the rest of the flight…”

    Are you saying that on a similalr flight plan passing Brasilia, you would have descended to FL360 having been cleared out of San Paulo at 370? Or did I read something into this?

    On the radio contact issue, I’m having a tough time understanding why they were out of contact too. The Brasilian papers are apparently reporting that the two controllers on duty barely spoke any English. But what did that have to do with it? Either they were experienced enough to help or they weren’t. Sounds like they had little idea what was going on.

    So your comment about training goes both ways. The controllers were not very well training either. If the Brasilia controller had not spoken to the Legacy, the standard procedure is to call the next sector and tell them there is NORDO headed there way. Apparently that did not happen either, or if it did the next sector never said anything about the Boeing coming.

    I also wonder how much international experience over vast unpopulated areas these guys had flown. I would not have been comfortable without talking to someone for an hour. I’m also assuming there is no HF down there any longer?


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