FAA Document May Offer Clues on Brazilian Collision

 - July 12, 2007, 11:34 AM

A Safety Alert for Operators released this week by the FAA gives new insight into what might have been a contributing factor in the collision between an Embraer Legacy operated by ExcelAire and a Gol Airlines Boeing 737 over the Amazon jungle last September. In the document, the FAA says that pilots of all Legacys (and the airline-equivalent ERJ 135/140/145) should use caution not to put their feet on a “footrest just below the instrument panel” because doing so might inadvertently “put the ATC transponder into standby mode.” Although the investigation into the cause of the crash between the Legacy and 737 is ongoing, a transcript of the Legacy’s cockpit voice recorder indicated the pilots were not given a TCAS alert, suggesting that the system might have been inoperable before the collision. Furthermore, the accident investigation has found that the Legacy was not seen on radar for some time before the accident. Although the document says the issue was discovered “during an investigation,” neither the FAA nor the NTSB would confirm to AIN that the collision in Brazil was the impetus. However, there have been no other reported cases of collisions or near midairs involving the models in question. Joel Weiss, attorney for the Legacy pilots, declined to comment, and by press time Embraer had not returned AIN’s call.