Legacy 600 Midair Pilots Still Entangled in Legal Jungle

 - January 19, 2010, 11:38 AM

American charter firm ExcelAire and pilots Joe Lepore and Jan Paul Paladino remain entangled in Brazilian legal battles more than three years after the midair on Sept. 29, 2006 between their Embraer Legacy 600 and a Gol Airlines 737-800 that resulted in the deaths of all 154 aboard the airliner. A Brazilian federal appeals court last week overturned the summary dismissal of negligence charges against the American pilots, while upholding complete dismissal of charges against two controllers and reducing charges against two others. The pilots again face those charges, linked to communications failures, along with other charges that were never dismissed. The controllers, sergeants in the air force-controlled ATC system, are also on trial in the independent military court system. Last month, a Mato Grosso state civil court ordered ExcelAire Services to deposit a 175,000 Real ($98,600) per plaintiff bond in several suits for damages brought by victims’ families. The same court had denied the bond request in similar cases the previous day. Meanwhile, a bill is pending in Brazil’s congress to limit the use of safety investigation information in the courts.