Sunday, November 26, 2006


Lots of news from Brazil today, where some of the more important publications have really got cracking on the problems with Brazilian air traffic control and the ensuing coverups. I'll post some excerpts later today after I get decent translations.

I get a lot of questions about where the pilots are and how they're doing. So here's a look at the two American pilots living large in detainment at Copacabana beach in Rio, thanks to good old today. Also, don't miss the truly wonderful quote at the end from who else but Wonderful Waldir.

American Pilots Detained in Brazil Don't Appreciate Presidential Suite
Written by Francesco Neves
Sunday, 26 November 2006
Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino, the American pilots of the Legacy executive jet, which collided on September 29 with Gol's Boeing 737 over the Brazilian Amazon resulting in the death of all 154 people aboard, may be housed in the presidential suite of a five-star hotel in the glamorous beach of Copacabana, but they don't seem even for a second to be enjoying the compulsory vacation courtesy of the Brazilian authorities.

Lepore and Paladino have had their American passport confiscated and they have been forced to stay confined in Rio's JW Marriott hotel.

The pilots have been spending most of their time, according to hotel workers, locked inside their room watching TV, surfing the Internet and talking to friends and relatives in the Net or the telephone.

The [hotel] ... offers breathtaking views of the Sugar Loaf and the Corcovado and Copacabana beach is just across de street from their room, the Yankees keep their curtains closed. Although the Marriott also has several restaurants ... as well as a swimming pool, sauna and a fitness center, the two pilots seem to be enjoying none of that.

Their employer, New-York-based ExcelAire, the air-taxi company that bought the Legacy involved in the accident, is picking up the tab. The bill has already surpassed $115,000 with the hotel charging a $2,000 daily rate. Food, laundry and other expenses are all extra. The Brazilian contribution: they have been kept on a 24-hour watch.

... Theo Dias, the pilot's lawyer, ... told Brazilian reporters: "Everybody is talking a lot about the trauma air traffic controllers are going through, but the same is happening to the pilots. And in their case they are in a foreign country, far from their families and insecure in regard to their future."

... In the Marriott's top floor, the 17th, where Lepore and Paladino are staying, security guards in the corridor maintain an around-the-clock vigil to prevent the presence of any stranger. A black cloth covers a window to the corridor in a way that people cannot see from outside what's going on at that floor.

In their classically-decorated 970-sq-feet suite the pilots have two living rooms, two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a kitchen. The place is reserved under their name until December 15.

Meanwhile, Brazilian Defense Minister, Waldir Pires, who has taken center stage in the whole affair of the planes collision and its aftermath, a chaotic situation the airports, continues issuing almost daily declarations.

This Saturday, November 25, Pires denied that the ousting of lieutenant-brigadier Paulo Roberto Cardoso Vilarinho from the Decea (Air Space Control Department) had anything to do with the current crisis in the aviation sector in Brazil.

"The leadership change," he told reporters in São Paulo, "is a routine measure." Vilarinho who had been clashing with the minister was until Friday, Brazil's air space honcho. Pires once again denied that Brazil has blind spots in its communication network.

"The information I have," he said, "is that these black holes don't exist. I am not an expert, but the Air Force has these data. If the holes existed I'm sure I would have been informed. This is my expectation at least." ...


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