Sunday, September 30, 2007

Day One of Year Two, and Dines From His 3-Inch Perch

It has now been a year and a day, and a few dozen things are going to be set straight starting today.

The lies and distortions, the vilification, the malicious slander and ugly threats that have been directed this way from Brazil in the last year are firmly on the record.

What is it I had done?

Oh, as the only survivor who was free to talk and write about the disaster, I told the truth of what I knew and sought the truth of what had happened.

I was painted as a villain for doing so by people, in the government, in the lickspittle Brazilian media, and among those with dollar signs (emphasis on the dollar, which remains quite fungible under favorable circumstances) in their eyes.

That's me above, in a charming graphic from Brazil that seems to suggest that I either had something to do with 9/11, or that it served me right. And yes, I have aged.

First let me deal with the allegations of my allegedly manifest lack of respect for those who died, which is one of the more odious lies that have refused to die a year later Down the Rabbit Hole. This particular canard was cooked-up during the media-fanned anti-American hysteria that followed the crash. It is routinely repeated by people in Brazil who perhaps do not know better, but who need to be reminded that grief does not exempt them from the common laws of libel and slander.

My father died several weeks after the crash, and in the delirium of his last excruciating pain-filled weeks he became convinced -- because he had just seen me on television with those awful pictures of the crash -- that I had died in a plane crash.

He was my father for 60 years, and he went to his grave believing that his first-born son had died in a crash in a jungle. As I stood at his bedside on his final night, in his delirium he said to my mother, "That man looks a lot like our Joe."

We all know grief, each in our own awful ways.

I have always expressed deep sorrow over the deaths, and deep sympathy for the relatives of the deceased, most of whom are now plaintiffs in a lawsuit against ExcelAire, the American owner of the Legacy, and Honeywell, the American company that manufactured the transponder unit in the Legacy. (The two Brazilian companies, Embraer, the manufacturer of the Legacy, and Gol Airlines, the operator of the 737 jet that went down, are not named in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court).

There is, in fact, abundant evidence of my often expressed sympathy for the dead and their relatives -- on the record, in print and in video. You could, and some did, look it up.

Some people with certain agendas Down the Rabbit Hole forget, or deliberately overlook, two major material facts:

One: I was a victim of this crash. (Oh, just watch the toadies take that sentence out of context!)

No, I didn't die or get physically injured. But to this day, none of the seven of us on the Legacy have any idea how we managed to walk away from a mid-air collision that every pilot I know says was not survivable. And every one of us (I assure you) relives those horrible moments repeatedly in our minds.

I can only imagine what goes through the minds of Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino, but I can do so knowing personally what emotional turmoil they went through when we learned, three hours after the crash, that there had been a collision between our plane and the Gol 737, with 154 dead.

You don't have to be an expert in human emotion to imagine the effect on anyone living through that.

From my strictly personal point of view, defined by everything I now know about that disaster, Brazilian air traffic control and the shoddy, disgraceful Brazilian air-traffic system very damn nearly killed me on Sept. 29, 2006, and afterward plunged me into what I will only describe as a very difficult period in my life, greatly aggravated by the vilification and lies.

I did not kill those people. I was merely a hitchhiker on an airplane, minding his own business when the world around me and those with me suddenly exploded.

I know it is desirable and expedient Down the Rabbit Hole to blame the Americans, but the Brazilian government and its air traffic control system put that crash firmly, and arguably inexorably, in place.

And if you claim otherwise, you are going to need better evidence than a transponder and TCAS system that may or may not have been inadvertently knocked off line, perhaps as a consequence of a badly designed foot-rest. You had better, for example, have an explanation for why that transponder went BACK online seconds after the crash -- and don't tell me you know that the pilots turned it back on. They did not.

And you had better be able to explain the following, among other things:

1. Why did Brazilian air traffic control fail to alert the Legacy to the fact, obvious to ATC, that the transponder wasn't signaling for nearly 5o minutes before collision? Why was there no attempt made to contact the Legacy?

2. Why did the Brazilian radar scope consistently show misreadings of the Legacy's altitude, in several instances indicating wild oscillations that in fact never occurred?

3. Why are we still hearing about a discarded "flight plan," when it is not in dispute that the Legacy was ordered to maintain 37,000 feet, and that ATC orders routinely override flight plans and are always to be followed?

4. Why have we heard so little on the record about the Gol's flight plan and clearance? Why have we not seen a transcript of the Gol cockpit voice recorder?

5. Why is the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, which now knows precisely what happened on Sept. 29, sitting on its hands, citing procedure, when two American pilots are being criminally scapegoated?

Those questions go on, and will be revisited here.

Two: Literally from Day Two, very significant portions of the Brazilian media energetically abetted the government's cover-up and readily accepted outright lies as fact, by way of fanning the flames of anti-American hysteria. So many lies were flying my way that it took me months to realize the futility of trying to swat them all away.

Here is an example. It is on the record, if you choose to look at that particular shoddy record, that I supposedly told Brazilian investigators that the Legacy was performing dangerous aerial maneuvers over the Amazon right before the collision. On the record! You could look it up! The report on what I supposedly said, which turns out to have been conveyed to a group of reporters in Brazil by a lawyer putting together a lawsuit on behalf of the victims, was even carried worldwide by the Dow Jones News Service until I made them correct it.

Obviously, I never said any such thing.

What I did say, which created the initial storm of furor, was that international pilots were telling me that Brazilian air traffic control was unreliable, and that there were well-known radio and radar problems over the Amazon. (By the way, an Air Force investigator looking over our damaged plane at the site where we landed told me the same thing in confidence). I said this not in a newspaper story, as was widely claimed in Brazil, but in a quick interview with CNN a couple of days after the crash. Both assertions about Brazil's unsafe skies, of course, are now widely known to be true.

And that brings me to the Brazilian media itself. In the early stages of this long process of trying to hammer out the truth on this blog, I responded to most Brazilian media requests (or in some cases demands) for interviews. I did these print and television interviews, which I hate to do, as a matter of journalistic responsibility.

But again and again and again, I found that reporters wanted merely to confront me with bogus claims, which I then was expected to refute. Here they were, talking to the only survivor who was free to speak about the crash, and all they wanted to do was argue with him!

I'd never before experienced anything remotely like it in journalism. Subsequently it struck me as being probably a bit like the experience one might go through if one were foolish enough to be on the other side of Bill O'Reilly's microphone and kill button.

Which finally brings me to this Alberto Dines, a misdemeanor in the Brazilian media whose unfortunate job it is to scold the felonies. Mr. Dines is a press critic and political observer, something, I gather, of a Latin American David Broder, puffing reflectively on that pipe while ruminating about Lessons Learned by the Media Gentry.

Now, this is an unkind thing to say, but I am not feeling kind:

Being a press critic in Brazil is kind of like being the sheriff in the town with the 100-room whorehouse. Every so often the sheriff has to ride down Main Street blowing his tin whistle and shooting his cap-gun in the air and scaring the girls, just to make it look good for the Proprietors and other respectable citizens.

Sheriff Dines recently wrote the following, which asserts that the big problem seems to be the "humiliating" experience of the two recent air disasters in Brazil, rather than that nation's manifest failure to do anything to fundamentally improve safety in the 12 months since the first one:

"In Brazilian society there remains the bitter taste of revulsion for the humiliating aviation collapse which paralyzed the country along the ten following months, but, overall, for the second catastrophe which took the lives of another 199 citizens.

"It was not the government that was to blame for the collision of the Gol Boeing with the Legacy jet in the Amazon's air space, nor for the explosion of the TAM Airbus on striking a warehouse next door to Congonhas Airport.

"But one can affirm that the Brazilian state, managed by a pusillanimous Executive - visibly worried about the runoff ballot in the presidential elections - was incapable of avoiding the climate of political emotion that impeded both the emergency actions designed to avoid chaos in air traffic as well as, afterward, braking the irresponsibility of the duopoly which dominates commercial aviation.

"It must be recognized that the performance of the then minister of Defense, Waldir Pires, was calamitous following the collision. Well intentioned, conscious of the dangers that a catastrophe of those proportions represented to the candidate for reelection in the final runoff on October 30, the minister delivered himself to a shouting match with the American journalist who was aboard the Legacy and, soon after, with the jet's two pilots, of the same nationality.

"A Minister of State does not get involved in corner brawls, and besides that, it wasn't his line of work, the Air Force has experience and highly qualified personnel to handle situations of this sort. ..."

Wait a minute! Somebody get the key to the gas-mask locker! "It was not that the government was to blame?" If not, who?


The obsequious Dines, lost in whatever mists surround him on his three-inch-high parrot perch, seems to think that I chose to draw the "well intentioned" Defense Minister into what he calls a "shouting match" and "corner brawls." In fact, as anyone with the sense of a turnip ought to be able to guess, I never heard of the fellow until he started denouncing me in public.

And, in what sounds like a bad line that didn't make it into "The Sopranos," this Dines darkly suggests that "the Air Force has experience and highly qualified personnel to handle situations of this sort. ..."

Jayzus, Dines! What are you intimating there? "The Air Force has highly qualified personnel to handle situations of this sort"!

Dammit, now, I forget what the hit men are supposed to do -- take the cannolis and leave the gun, or vice versa? For protection, I'd go find Tony Soprano, but he was killed at Holsten's, which is now just a neighborhood soda fountain and candy shop again.

To those accustomed to genuflecting to power, even while sweetly whispering the gentlest of admonitions in the hush tones that might be heard in the Vatican apartments ("Ah, dear Cardinal Dines! We do so appreciate your counsel!"), speaking the truth evidently sounds a bit like shouting.

Oh, I remember now. It's leave the gun, take the cannolis. If I turn up in a trunk in the Meadowlands, please drag this Dines and find out where he was on the night in question.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Empty Skies

Why pilots of two aircraft on a collision course at a closing speed of 1,000 miles an hour wouldn't necessarily see anything before impact, and other mysteries of the Sept. 29 crash, as addressed by a commercial airline pilot.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

For the Record

I recently posted the gravely flawed congressional-investigation (CPI) report into the Sept. 29 crash, which is riddled with erroneous mistranslations by congressional officials from English to Portuguese and back, as noted by our own eminently reliable translator Mr. Pedicini.

Events are closing. The criminal trial continues. Civil litigation over the claims of victims -- filed against Gol Airlines as a matter of procedure, with the other principals included in the defense -- is moving inexorably toward a settlement, and my guess is that an out-of-court deal will come with gag orders. There's a lot of money on the table. Obviously, the families of the 154 victim have to be compensated. By whom? More later.

[Added Sept. 26: The perils of linking to the unreliable and selectively edited Brazilian documents are manifest. For example, the pilots of the Legacy had some difficulty trying to figure out how to turn on the cabin in-flight entertainment system (basically that screen display that shows passengers altitude and course). Their discussion on that subject is part of the transcript, but casual readers from Brazil have e-mailed me demanding to know why I don't admit the transcript of the pilots' conversation on that subject indicates they were unfamiliar with the Legacy. The "Air Show" cabin video system, of course, has no more to do with the flying an airplane or with aircraft avionics than the galley coffee pot does.]

The first anniversary of the crash is Saturday.

For those who have been carefully following this story, here are previously published links to key documents, to be considered along with the CPI draft report. As regards the ExcelAire report, it is interesting (and important) to note that no one has disputed anything in it.

The links:

IFACTA REPORT (from the international air traffic controllers organization)


EXCELAIRE REPORT (It's long, about 70 pages)

FAA Airworthiness Directive on transponders (Sept 2006) Note the section on Honeywell transponders in EMB-135 jets, which is the airframe of the Legacy.


Monday, September 10, 2007

The CPI Report on the Sept. 29 Crash

Here is a link to a pdf file of the 170-page report by the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPI) on the Sept. 29 crash and the crisis in Brazilian air traffic.

Richard Pedicini in Sao Paulo tirelessly translated this from the Portuguese, and has added Translator's Notes at appropriate spots to point out slips, errors and outright mistranslations in the Portuguese version of English radio transcripts from the American pilots.


Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Truth Finally Gets Its Socks On

Given that the two American pilots of the Legacy 600 are now on trial, in absentia, on criminal charges that carry prison time in Brazil, it’s interesting to see how conventional wisdom has finally evolved in Brazil to accommodate realities that were violently in dispute for many months after the Sept. 29 crash.

Take this article by Concetta Kim Martens of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a think-tank whose interests include “the formulation of rational and constructive U.S. policies towards Latin America.” The article was published on the organization’s Web site,, and republished by Brazil Magazine (, where it drew lively reader comment.

Obviously, I have no quarrel with the essence of the article.

That’s because nearly every assertion in it was first made a long time ago on this blog. But that was way back when no one else in the media was even raising the issues of the soundness of Brazil’s air-traffic control system, or criticizing the reckless rush by the Brazilian government, military and Federal Police to criminalize the Sept. 29 accident and scapegoat the American pilots.

Now that accuracy is winning the battle, we need to encourage perspective to march forward. So I need to point out that the COHA article, while essentially correct in its points, shades history a bit. And as I sense we are nearing the point where journalism must tip its fedora to history, I am sure Ms. Martens will forgive my nit-picking.

or one thing, she muddies the facts a bit on the demeanor of air-traffic controllers after the accident. “Since the September 29 Gol crash over the Amazon, controllers felt unfairly targeted for splenetic criticism [my italics] they were receiving from the public, and reacted by staging several work stoppages …” she writes.

Didn't happen quite that way.

Here is what did happen:

First the American pilots were recklessly and, it seemed to me universally, scapegoated. It took a while for the public in Brazil to become aware of, or concede, the role of air-traffic control in the accident.

Remember how long the ex-defense minister, Wonderful Waldir Pires, loudly insisted that the pilots caused the crash by performing reckless aerial loop d loops over the Amazon? Nobody in power told him to put a lid on that nonsense, including his boss, the President, who won a runoff election amid the passions of the disaster, which had occurred two days before the polls opened.

Only in time did the general public, but not the authorities, acknowledge that the Sept. 29 crash had been set in motion by a series of egregious errors by air traffic controllers, who themselves were working in deplorable conditions with faulty equipment within a system beset with major technological deficiencies in radar and radio communications, especially over the Amazon.

Initially, as I argued last October, November and afterward, the air-traffic controllers' protests were basically a warning shot across the bow of government and military to not implicate air -traffic control in the blame.

What actually happened was that low-ranking controllers – fearing that they, too, might become scapegoats along with the pilots (which in fact ultimately happened) – clammed up while the American pilots remained in custody in Brazil.

While the pilots twisted in the wind, the core group of controllers who were on duty during the accident -- the people who knew, for example, that air-traffic control was aware of the transponder malfunction on the Legacy for 50 minutes before the crash and failed to raise the alarm -- remained silent, went to ground and refused to answer any questions, citing psychological trauma.

As the protests continued for months, air traffic in Brazil was thrown into chaos.

For months after the Sept. 29 accident, public sentiment, whipped up by xenophobic Brazilian media, had focused sharply and exclusively on the Americans as culprits. There was no “splenetic criticism” in Brazil of the air traffic controllers that I am aware of. Of course, I was raising criticism of air traffic control on this little blog. It wasn't splenetic -- though the outraged and verbally violent reaction to it certainly was.

Ms. Martens does zero-in effectively on some of the official nitwits who continually brayed that all was well in Brazil’s skies; that the Sept. 29 disaster was caused strictly by reckless, arrogant Americans; that Brazil’s skies and airports were under world-class supervision and that to say otherwise was a base calumny and an insult to the honor of the nation.

Of course, the official indignation all rang a bit hollow again in July, when another airplane crash killed 199 people at overcrowded, unsafe Congonhas Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s busiest.

Wonderful Waldir Pires, the obstinate Defense Minister responsible for air-traffic control, was finally out the door. So was Jose Carlos “Sunshine” Pereira, who ran the airports authority and suggested that it was slander to suggest that anything, anything might be wrong with Brazil’s aviation system.

Sunshine Pereira ranks right up there near Wonderful Waldir as a classic character in this story. Pereira steadfastly insisted after the Sept. 29 crash, even as the evidence became manifestly clear that both aircraft had been put on a collision course at 37,000 feet by air traffic control, that “it is not the best moment to carry out changes” including addressing the inept military control of civilian aviation.

Later, as international aviation groups expressed outrage at the way Brazil had clumsily politicized and criminalized the Sept. 29 accident, and even after the second horrible accident in July, with 350 now dead in two disasters in 10 months, Sunshine Pereira stood by his rusty guns.

Brazil does not need international help,” he proclaimed, inanely. “The crisis is ours. The dead are ours.”

Shortly after, he was ducked-walked off the deck.

But as Ms. Martens writes, the President remained in a defensive crouch. “The security of our aviation system is compatible with all other international standards,” Lucky Lula proclaimed. As recently as three weeks ago, Lucky Lula was still scoffing at the fact, otherwise widely accepted all over the world, that there are black holes and blind spots in air-traffic control radar and radio communications over the Amazon.

I assume Ms. Martens’ small deficiencies in context and nuance are a consequence of the demands of concise summary. She writes: “President da Silva’s government has come under a great deal of fire for failing to properly address the nation’s air-travel safety, an act that according to several aviation experts, and the adamant belief of a good deal of the public sentiment, led to the air disaster” [s]

Well, I'm here to repeat, for the record, that this "public sentiment" took a long time getting its socks on, and even longer to reach the level of being "adamant."

And I should also point out that, while public sentiment may well have finally come around to the truth, as Ms. Martens asserts, two American pilots remain on trial on spurious criminal charges that public sentiment realizes were trumped-up.


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Brazil's Skies: 'Unreliable, Unsafe and Inefficient'

Here are some findings in a critical new report-card on Brazil's air-traffic management sent to Brazilian airlines and aviation officials last month by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), whose 224 member airlines represent 94 percent of the world's passenger and cargo traffic:

--The air-traffic control system in Brazil is "unreliable, unsafe and inefficient," with negative effects not only on basic transportation, but on "opportunities for economic growth."

--Nor are things improving, given the government's failure to address political mismanagement of civilian aviation in Brazil. "The political crisis is expected to continue for some time, possibly causing further ATC [air-traffic control] problems in the near future."

--Since the Sept. 29 mid-air collision over the Amazon that killed 154 people, labor problems and other disruptions in air-traffic control have "magnified the deficiencies of the ATC system" while costing airlines "more than $70 million" because of delays and airport problems.

--"There is concern in the industry that appropriate training for air traffic, airline and airport technical support is not being provided. For example, it is apparent that Brazil will be unable to comply with ICAO-mandated [International Civil Aviation Organization] ATC English-proficiency level by next year."

--In 2006, the accident rate for Brazilian operators was 3.5 times higher than world average and 1.25 times higher than the regional rate" for Latin American countries. [My note: Brazil's accident rate -- a measure of aircraft-hull losses -- was significantly higher than the world average in each of the last five years, so the loss of the Gol 737 on Sept. 29, 2006 was not the deciding factor.]

The IATA report was not publicly released. I obtained a copy, as did some Brazilian newspapers that ran edited excerpts.

In the Aug. 15 report, the world airline trade group outlined "short-term objectives" and offered assistance to Brazilian authorities in fixing the country's air-traffic control system.

Some of the "objectives:"

--"Establish a communication link between the Ministry [the Defense Ministry, which runs aviation] and the IATA and airlines to enable collaborative decision-making process by which industry experts will meet on a monthly basis during the next 12 months."

--"Implement a contingency plan to mitigate ATC problems."

--"Resolve political-labor problems" in air traffic control.

--"Ensure that ICAO principles are applied to accident investigations without external [My note: meaning "political"] interference..."

--"Ensure that adequate air-traffic services are rendered by all area control centers, including radar surveillance, ground-to-air communications and navigational aids."

--"Achieve compliance with ICAO-mandated ATC English proficiency levels."


The Brazilian media gave the report cursory attention and focused on only a few elements. Here are some excerpts from today's Folha (translation by Richard Pedicini):

Folha de São Paulo

"Brazil has 3.5 times more accidents than the world average ... Numbers are from 2006 and are in International Air Transport Association report; government did not comment. ... According to the document, the air traffic control situation is 'unstable, inefficient and harms flight safety'

Brazil had, last year, 3.5 times more accidents than the world average and air traffic control harms flight safety, affirmed a report by IATA (English acronym for International Air Transport Association) to which the Folha had access.

The document was sent to the Ministry of Defense, to the airlines and to SNEA (National Airlines Syndicate) on the situation of air transport in the country. ...

IATA foresees that the crisis is ongoing and that the country may suffer impacts in tourism and, ultimately, in connectivity with the rest of the world. ...

Other measures indicated are the solution of the political and labor problems surrounding the air traffic controllers and the improvement of the professionals' level of proficiency in English. ...

According to the report, very favorable to the airlines, the lack of a contingency plan affects reliability and efficiency of the airlines' operations.

Sought out, the Ministry of Defense made no comment.



The IATA merely reiterates -- albeit with the clout of the world's airlines behind it -- what anyone who has been seriously following this story since the Sept. 29 disaster last year knows well. Brazilian air-traffic control is in chronic disarray and disrepair.

Hobbled by poor training, miserable morale and unreliable equipment, Brazilian air traffic controllers inadvertently put those two aircraft on a collision course, and failed to take action to prevent the disaster even though it was apparent for 50 minutes before the crash that a disaster was being set in motion out over the Amazon.

We've come a long way in 11 months, it seems. At least now, the sorry state of Brazilian air-traffic control is at least acknowledged. By some.

A few days after getting out of Brazil following the Sept. 29 crash, and while involved in a media circus that enveloped me because I was the only survivor free to write and talk about what had happened, I mentioned in an interview, with CNN I think it was, that Brazil's air space over the Amazon was notoriously perilous, with air-traffic-control radar blind zones and radio-communications blackout areas. Not to mention air-traffic controllers who are poorly trained and demoralized, and in many cases unable to communicate adequately in English, the lingua franca of world aviation.

How did I know this? Well, at the jungle air strip where the seven of us who survived were held after we made an emergency landing in the damaged Legacy 600, two Brazilian military investigators who showed up as the inquiry into the crash began told me so. So did a half-dozen international pilots who fly Brazil's skies and who e mailed or phoned me after the crash.

And calls to others elicited the same information: You fly the Amazon air routes -- where traffic has been increasing sharply in recent years -- hoping that nothing gets in your way, especially in the vast stretches of rain forest between Brasilia and Manaus, where the collision occurred, because you're often simply out of contact with the ground (and the ground with you).

The reaction in Brazil to my saying this in an interview in early October frankly astonished me. You'd have thought I had accused the Brazilian Air Force, which runs all air-traffic control, of kidnapping the Lindbergh baby and selling it to drug dealers.

The mob came at me with virtual torches and pitchforks. The former Defense Minister, Wonderful Waldir Pires (since fired), denounced me personally on several occasions for my effrontery in stating what was obvious about Brazilian air-traffic control. The President, Luiz Inacio (Lucky) Lula da Silva, was reportedly furious at what he regarded as an insult to Brazil's honor.

In fact, in press interviews, Lucky Lula again invoked my alleged calumny two weeks ago, as if it were not now freely acknowledged -- even in Brazilian investigations into the crash -- that there are notorious dead zones for radar and radio communications over the Amazon, and that the Brazilian air traffic control has some ... well, issues, as the tech people say.

Meanwhile, the criminal trial continues in Sinop, a small city in the Amazon. Two American pilots and four Brazilian air traffic controllers, the designated scapegoats for this disgraceful system, remain in grave peril.


Monday, September 3, 2007

Video of Jungle Search

As the criminal trial goes on, it's easy to get diverted by procedure and the endless recriminations in Brazil and forget what happened to 154 victims. On Sunday night, Fantastico, the top-rated Brazilian TV news magazine, ran haunting and previously unseen video of the rescue operations in the Amazon. Here is the link.


Trial Update

Above: The Sinop airport and the trial proceedings.

Update on the trial from So Noticias, a news site that covers the interior of Mato Grosso state. The trial is being held in the small city of Sinop, near the Amazon crash site. (Translation thanks to Richard Pedicini).

Note this amazing wording in the story, which reflects a common attitude that convictions are a sure thing: "There is no time set for the verdict and sentencing of the accused."

From So Noticias:

"New steps in the trial in the second worst air accident in the history of Brazilian aviation, in the far north of Mato Grosso, will be set starting on the 12th. This was the deadline stipulated by the federal judge in Sinop, Murilo Mendes, for the lawyers for American pilots Joseph Lepore and Jan Paladino, and for the four air traffic controllers, all indicted by the Federal Prosecutors' Office (MPF), to present their thesis of defense and their list of witnesses.

Só Notícias learned that this stage will be marked by the testimony of the witnesses for the accusation and, later, the defense. Prosecutor Thiago Lemos de Andrade has already declared that only two were presented by the MPF, one being an air traffic control supervisor and a passenger in the Legacy jet. [MY NOTE: I don't know who they are referring to by "a passenger in the Legacy jet." Along with the two pilots, there were five passengers: Two employees of the Long Island air-charter company, ExcelAire, which had just purchased the plane in Brazil; two employees of Embraer, the Brazilian manufacturer; and me, a reporter on a freelance assignment who hitched a ride on the 13-seat Legacy].

After that a period will also be opened for possible requests for investigations and examinations.

There is no time set for the verdict and sentencing of the accused.

This week, the controllers who were working in Cindacta 1, in Brasilia, on the day of the accident – Jomarcelo Fernandes dos Santos, Lucivando Tibúrcio de Alencar, Leandro José Santos de Barros and Felipe Santos dos Reis - testified in Sinop. Judge Murilo Mendes questioned the four on the acts that appear in the indictment presented by the Federal Prosecutors' Office and which may have contributed to the accident, in which the 154 passengers and crew died.

Americans Joseph Lepore and Jan Paladino, who were piloting the Legacy jet, which was involved in the collision with the Gol Boeing, did not appear. The lawyers asked that they be heard in the USA, but the request was denied by Murilo Mendes who determined that the trial would continue without their presence.

Before the 12th, the Federal Court should send the transcript of the hearings to the parts involved, so that they can manifest themselves and object to items with which they disagree. "