Legacy Midair Pilots Can Now Testify in U.S.

 - March 25, 2008, 11:33 AM

Joseph Lepore and Jan Paladino–the two U.S. pilots of an ExcelAire Legacy 600 that collided with a Gol Airlines Boeing 737-800 over Brazil’s Amazon jungle in September 2006, killing all 154 aboard the airliner–will now be allowed to testify in a criminal trial from the U.S. A Brazilian federal court judge reversed his previous decision based on new case law from the Federal Supreme Court, which decided that two North American flight attendants, in similar circumstances, would be allowed to testify in their own country. According to Theo Dias, the pilots’ criminal lawyer in Brazil, a U.S. legal body such as a state attorney will be selected to hear the pilots’ evidence, probably in their home state of New York. However, with the need to translate questionnaires and legal documents and decide which court will hear the proceedings, this process is likely to take a while. “It may take three months or more before the pilots can be heard,” said Dias. The two pilots already spoke to Cenipa investigators in January for some 20 hours over the course of three days at the NTSB offices in Washington, D.C.