Wednesday, November 29, 2006


The Federal Police in Brazil don't appear to be moving as readily as they said they would yesterday to address the holding of two American pilots -- Rep. Peter King of New York calls them "hostages" -- after the Sept. 29 mid-air collision.

It seems the cops in Mato Grosso (see my descriptions of my strange Night at the Mato Grosso Police Station in the London Times link in the post below) now say they probably won't get around to interviewing the two pilots (again!) before the week of Dec. 13. Yesterday, they were reported in Brazil as saying that they would interview the pilots next week, with a release expected shortly afterward.

Representatives of the families of those who died in the accident have strongly objected after the Federal Police said they were ready to release the pilots and focus their attention instead on Brazil's air traffic control system and its protesting air traffic controllers (2,200 air controllers now, down from 3,600 15 years ago, though air traffic has doubled in Brazil since then). Overwhelmingly, evidence accumulated so far points to a series of errors and malfunctions in air traffic control as the primary cause of the crash.

But the complaints in the several major lawsuits filed so far all name as defendants companies in the United States -- ExcelAire, the charter jet company that employs the pilots, and Honeywell, the company that manufactured the transponder.

The loss of 154 lives on Gol Flight 1907 was profoundly tragic, and it is crucial that the faults that caused this disaster be exposed and fixed in Brazil. To cover this up and falsely assign blame is to dishonor those who died.

All together now: who has money? The Americans! I mean, good luck getting a judgment out of the Brazilian Air Force and its air traffic control system, which pays its air controllers so poorly that many of them drive taxis or have other second jobs.

The Association of Family and Friends of the Victims of Flight 1907 has today publicly demanded a delay in any planned release of the American pilots while the investigations continue.

The Association issued a statement today saying that unspecified "financial interests" were behind the move to release the pilots, who have been detained now, without charges or any evidence of charges, for 61 days.


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