Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Aviation Group: Don't Create Another 'Absurdity'

The National Syndicate of Aeronauts is calling on Brazil not to criminalize the recent TAM airline crash that killed 199 at Congonhas Airport in Sao Paulo, to avoid repeating what it calls the "absurdity" following the Sept. 29 mid-air collision that killed 154 over the Amazon, in which the government and police rushed to criminally blame the American pilots (and subsequently also changed a handful of air traffic controllers).

The statement:

"The National Syndicate of Aeronauts (SNA) declares that it is going to the Minister of Justice to ask for the removal of police institutions from the investigation into the accident with the TAM airplane.

The experience with the criminalization of the GOL accident, in which Air Traffic Controllers were indicted for an intentional crime, is considered an absurdity by the SNA, which repudiates that situation and alerts society to the possibility of our having Aviation Accident Final Reports deficiently or incompletely produced because of the interference of institutions foreign to the CENIPA investigation.

We counsel a completely independent organization for the investigation of air traffic control accidents, assisting the Presidency of the Republic, so that the country can be in harmony with what is foreseen in the 1944 Chicago Convention, to which Brazil is a signatory, and which regulates, through Annex 13 of ICAO - International Civil Aviation Organization, the investigation of accidents and the protection of Flight Safety information, this last situation recommended by Appendix E of the cited annex.

The SNA calls society's attention to the need to safeguard the work of the CENIPA Investigative Commission from any sort of external pressure, to allow the discovery of the real factors that contributed to the GOL and TAM accidents, since it is this commission's responsibility to issue safety recommendations, preventive instruments that can avoid other identical accidents.

The National Syndicate of Aeronauts also warns of the current use of crew members at the limits of Professional Regulation because of the airlines' new management model which has more condensed route networks and uses aircraft on the order of 14 hours per day. It was emphasized that obeying the regulations covering aeronauts is an import item in maintaining Operational Safety.

As a final point, the syndicate declares that it is in favor of construction work at Guarulhos International Airport, with some reservations, and defends the construction of both the third runway and the third passenger terminal as part of the actions which will permit the increase in demand with the redistribution of flights from Congonhas Airport.

4 comments:

Carlos said...

Mr. Sharkey,
All accidents, anyone, that has fatalities has a criminal investigation in Brazil that starts immediately after the accident, collecting testimonials and proofs. It’s the law. The criminal investigation requests proofs of technical facts to the experts. Court will judge. There is no way to not criminalize any accident of this kind; the authorities would be transgressing the law. But remember criminal investigation is not a judgment, and everyone that be accused has a fair judgment, with defense rights assured, the same way as USA.
Best regards.

Cassandra_Moderna said...

Carlos, my friend, please. You are Brazilian and live in Brazil. You know that justice here in not fair. You know that in the past 40 years not one single congressman or senator has gone to jail for their crimes. You know that the rich do not go to jail. Everybody here knows that. And, even in the U.S., "justice" is not the same for everyone. If you are poor and cannot hire a good lawyer, you are screwed. But, at least, in the U.S., they do not criminalize aircraft accidents. They realize that to err is human, and the foci of the investigations are always on finding the cause and preventing a recurrence. However, if there was gross and willful negligence (for example, if the pilot had been drinking or doing loop-d'-loops) which resulted in death or injury, then, of course, there are criminal penalties. There is no evidence of any kind that the pilots of the Legacy committed such negligence. However, there is plenty of evidence that the politicians and the military personnel in charge of ATC in Brazil were negligent for years! Furthermore, it is glaringly obvious that the two American pilots would never receive a fair trial in Brazil, and that therefore they should never be extradited. Courts have no expertise in aviation and should not be involved.

Carlos said...

Mr. Sharkey,
The Joint Resolution of FIA regarding criminalization of aviation accidents is very recent (oct17, 2006) and was motivated by Legacy accident, and several others, including an American one. America has several accidents that were criminalized when aeronautical investigation was on course. As soon as is there any suspicion of “acts of sabotage and willful or particularly egregious reckless misconduct (including misuse of alcohol or substance abuse)”, a criminal investigation begins. That is the case of Legacy accident. There is strong suspicion of pilot and controllers misconduct, not proved yet, but, I repeat, strong suspicion. That is why Brazilian judge has accepted to start suiting both pilots and controllers. Justice is just starting suiting. Nobody will be condemned without proved guilty and defense right, especially when all the eyes of the world are focused in Brazil accident.
U.S. does criminalize aircraft accidents from beginning. One of most recent is Flight 261 from San Francisco to Mexico, Jan.31, 2000. An investigation by the U.S. attorney's office into the company's maintenance practices was expanded after the crash, and then put on hold while the NTSB conducted an inquiry. U.S. federal and Florida state prosecutors brought criminal charges against a maintenance company, several mechanics, and a maintenance manager arising out of the 1996 ValuJet flight 592 crash. Nearly all charges later dismissed, withdrawn, or dismissed on appeal, and all tried individuals acquitted but the criminal investigation started just after the crash. Not to criminalize an accident is just a request from FIA. Authorities can criminalize if they wish or if there is suspicion.
Best regards.

Cassandra_Moderna said...

Carlos, sorry but I think you know very little about the legal definitions of reckless misconduct. If there are authorities here in Brazil who harbour strong suspicions of reckless misconduct on the part of the Legacy pilots, it is because they are ignorant dunderheads!