Brazil Court Orders Release of Passports to U.S. Pilots

 - December 15, 2006, 8:57 AM

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. All 154 people on board the Gol flight were killed, while none of the seven people on board the Legacy was injured. The new corporate jet was on a delivery flight to the headquarters of its buyer, charter operator ExcelAire of Ronkonkoma, N.Y., when the midair occurred. Investigators continue to study the accident to determine cause and assign blame. ExcelAire’s lawyers in Brazil said in a statement that the decision “corrects the discriminatory effect of the passport seizure and travel restrictions.” The lawyers also said that the pilots “will continue to cooperate with the investigation.”