Here's a sample, with some comment from me appended, from Sao Paulo's Folha newspaper today. Thanks, as usual, to correspondent Richard Pedicini for the translation:
Tapes reveal errors in plane crash
Pilots of Legacy that collided with Gol Boeing had problems with jet, radio, and speaking with tower
By Elaine Catanhêde, Folha columnist
The 290 pages with the transcriptions of the Legacy jet pilots' conversations and of the Brazilian controllers', obtained by the Folha, show that a succession of errors and misunderstandings caused the crash of the Gol Boeing, on September 29, 2006, causing the deaths of 154 people.
The recordings confirm that the tower in São José dos Campos (state of São Paulo), from where the [Legacy] jet took off, liberated the flight citing 37,000 feet, without detailing the three altitudes in the original plan. It was the first error of a series.
[THIS MEANS THE LEGACY WAS TOLD BY AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL AT DEPARTURE TO REMAIN AT 37,000 FEET ALL THE WAY TO MANAUS, OVERRIDING THE FORMAL FLIGHT PLAN, AS THE PILOTS HAVE SAID ALL ALONG]
The Legacy's North American pilots, Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino, had difficulties with the jet, the radio, the aeronautic map, and the controllers' English. Besides this, the anti-collision system was off.
[MY COMMENT: AIR CRASHES USUALLY ARE CAUSED BY A SERIES OF ERRORS AND WE DON'T KNOW THE FULL STORY YET. BUT ONE REASON THE AMERICAN PILOTS MIGHT HAVE HAD 'DIFFICULTIES' IS THAT THERE ARE NOTORIOUS ZONES OVER THE AMAZON WHERE RADIO AND RADAR CONTACT ARE UNRELIABLE. SEE MY FEB 13 POST WITH THE STATEMENT FROM THE INTERNATIONAL AIR LINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION (ALPA) TO THAT EXACT EFFECT.
ALSO, I GOT TO KNOW JOE AND JAN FAIRLY WELL DURING OUR DETAINMENT IN THE JUNGLE AND DURING AN ALL NIGHT POLICE INTERROGATION THE NEXT NIGHT AND AFTERWARDS.
I AM HERE TO TELL YOU, THEY SPEAK VERY GOOD ENGLISH! IF THEY HAD "DIFFICULTIES" WITH THE "CONTROLLERS' ENGLISH" IT'S BECAUSE, AS EVERY INTERNATIONAL PILOT WHO FLIES OVER BRAZIL KNOWS, SOME BRAZILIAN CONTROLLERS' ENGLISH SKILLS ARE POOR. MANY OF THEM ONLY KNOW A HALF DOZEN PHRASES, LEARNED PHONETICALLY. THE RECENT ALPA STATEMENT WARNING INTERNATIONAL PILOTS ABOUT FLYING OVER BRAZIL ALSO ADDRESSES THAT.
Back to Folha: "The controllers were unaware that the two planes were traveling at the same altitude. When Brasilia called Manaus to ask why the Boeing didn't appear, the response was "Hey! What Gol 1907 is that?"
MY COMMENT: THEY DIDN'T KNOW THE COMMERCIAL GOL 737 WITH 154 ABOARD WAS IN THE SKIES, LET ALONE AT THE SAME ALTITUDE? ????
More from Folha's Ms. Catanhêde:
"The 290 pages with the transcriptions of the Legacy jet pilots' conversations and of the Brazilian controllers', reinforce that a succession of errors, misunderstandings, and a certain inexperience or incompetence caused the worst accident in the history of Brazilian aviation: the crash of the Gol Boeing, on September 29 of last year, with 154 people aboard.
...Seen together, the transcriptions make it evident that the pilots and the controller in São José, subofficial João Batista da Silva, whose name isn't cited, had communications difficulties. He spoke of 37,000 feet and the [American] pilots tried three times to clarify, without success.
In testimony to the Federal Police, Silva said that he knew the flight plan foresaw three altitudes, but limited himself to orienting the Legacy "in the exact terms" he received from the Brasilia center: "Authorized level 370 on the heading of Poços de Caldas."
This was the first of a series of errors, such as the displinência [carelessness, indifference, negligence, disinterest] of Brasilia's controllers and the discomfort of the North American pilots Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino with the new jet and with flight conditions in Brazil. In one stretch of the black box, one of the pilots admits, "I need to learn this international crap. Shit."
[MY COMMENT: HEY GUYS, COULDN'T IT ACTUALLY BE THAT PERHAPS BRAZIL'S AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS ALSO 'NEED TO LEARN THIS INTERNATIONAL CRAP?']
Folha: "In one of the stretches of the recording between the centers of Brasilia and Manaus it is clear that Cindacta-1 [the country's main air traffic control center near Brasilia] was convinced that the Legacy was flying at 36,000 feet, and not 37,000 feet, as it was in fact doing.
"After the impact, which was at exactly 16:56:54 (Brasilia time), one of the Legacy pilots asked the other, "What the devil was that?" Only 26 minutes later, Lepore and Paladino admitted to each other the possibility - really, the only one - of having hit another airplane. "We hit another airplane. I don't know where the damn thing came from." In an interview with the Folha in New York, in December, they declared that they were only certain after their emergency landing.
"For the controllers, the discovery was slow. "The pilot told us he collided with something and he doesn't know what it was", said the Manaus controller. "Wow. Balls", the one from Brasilia responded. The tragedy was clear."
[MY COMMENT: WE LANDED IN THE JUNGLE ABOUT 25 MINUTES AFTER IMPACT, BY MY NOTES, WHICH CAN'T BE OFF BY MORE THAN A FEW MINUTES. THAT WOULD HAVE MEANT THAT THE COMMENT CITED ABOVE -- THE INITIAL SPECULATION ON HITTING ANOTHER PLANE -- CAME AWFULLY LATE IN THE PROCESS, AT 26 MINUTES AFTER IMPACT. YET FOLHA SAYS DARKLY THAT IT TOOK THE PILOTS, FRANTICALLY STRUGGLING TO PUT DOWN A DAMAGED PLANE, A FULL 26 MINUTES BEFORE THEY "ADMITTED TO EACH OTHER THE POSSIBILITY -- REALLY, THE ONLY ONE -- OF HAVING HIT ANOTHER AIRPLANE."
BUT WOULDN'T THAT SUGGEST THAT, AS I WITNESSED IT, THE POSSIBILITY OF HAVING HIT ANOTHER PLANE WAS CONSIDERED VERY UNLIKELY? AFTER OUR EMERGENCY LANDING IN THE JUNGLE, THE SEVEN OF US SPECULATED FOR ALMOST THREE HOURS ABOUT WHAT WE MIGHT HAVE COLLIDED WITH BEFORE WE LEARNED THAT IT WAS A 737.
UNTIL WE LEARNED THAT, NO ONE GAVE SERIOUS CREDENCE TO THE IDEA THAT WE HAD COLLIDED WITH AN AIRLINER. NO ONE SAW THE OTHER PLANE AT THE POINT OF IMPACT, FOR EXAMPLE. ONE PERSON SAW "A DARTING SHADOW." THE PREVAILING THEORY IN OUR GROUP SPECULATION WAS THAT ANOTHER AIRPLANE AT A HIGHER ALTITUDE NEARBY HAD EXPLODED FOR SOME UNKNOWN REASON AND WE RAN INTO SOME OF THE FALLING DEBRIS
AS TO THE REPORTED TRANSCRIPT COMMENT "We hit another airplane." THAT TAKES ON A WHOLE DIFFERENT MEANING IF IT IS PUNCTUATED AS, "We hit another airplane????"
NATURALLY, ONE REACTION OF THE PILOTS WAS THAT WE COULD HAVE HIT ANOTHER AIRPLANE. BUT THAT SCENARIO WAS SO UNLIKELY -- NO ONE SURVIVES A MID-AIR COLLISION BETWEEN TWO BIG AIRPLANES -- THAT IT WAS FAR DOWN OUR GROUP SPECULATION LIST. AS I HAVE SAID AGAIN AND AGAIN, WE WERE SHOCKED BEYOND DESCRIPTION WHEN WE LEARNED THAT WE HAD COLLIDED WITH AN AIRLINER, IF ONLY BECAUSE THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM IS YOU CANNOT POSSIBLY SURVIVE SUCH A THING]
There is one other bit of silly business flapping in the media winds today, and that is a report on Brazzil.com that the pilots had a laptop in the cockpit, presumably watching a movie. This nearly ranks up there with the widely promulgated theory that the pilots were executing stunt maneuvers to show what the plane could do, and tuned off the transponder to conceal that.
From a pilot I know:
"Many of the most advanced cockpits in the world use laptop computers. EFBs (meaning Electronic Flight Bags) are replacing the numerous books of charts that are carried on board and that require frequent revisions to changes in the airways around the world. Laptops in cockpits are very common in today's aviation world."
And no, they aren't programmed with "Mission Impossible II."
--Over and out.