FAA Denies Sanctions against Amazon Midair Pilots

 - May 6, 2010, 7:24 AM

The FAA has rejected a request from Brazilian politicians to revoke the pilot certificates of the two U.S. pilots involved in the 2006 midair collision over the Amazon rainforest. Jan Paladino and Joseph Lepore were at the controls of the Legacy 600 operated by New York-based ExcelAire when it collided with a Gol Airlines Boeing 737. The airliner crashed, killing all 154 people on board, but the two American pilots were able to land the damaged business jet at a remote Brazilian military base. According to the FAA, the April 13 request was made in Washington by the two elected officials and a lawyer representing the families of those who died in the accident; that lawyer is also serving on the Brazilian prosecution team pursuing the U.S. pilots. In response, the FAA ruled in an April 27 letter delivered by the State Department that “none of the pilot’s actions rise to the level of conduct that would justify FAA enforcement action.” Joel Weiss, the pilots’ attorney, said, “We’re pleased but not surprised. The pilots did not violate any rules or regulations. This accident was caused by only one thing: Brazilian air traffic controllers [who] put two competent flight crews on a collision course.”