Saturday, April 28, 2007


Brazilian authorities will conclude their so-called "investigations" into the Sept. 29 mid-air disaster much sooner than they'd planned, in a political move to head off what will be a very hard-hitting documentary to be aired next month on the Discovery Channel Brazil, laying out step by step how this disaster occurred.

The documentary will come on the heels of the wide release of a stunning 134-page recent report by ExcelAire's lawyers in Brazil to the Federal Police. That report -- which absolves the two American pilots of blame -- lays out in minute detail what happened each step of the way, and also documents problems such as avionics equipment in the Legacy that had previously been repaired. ExcelAire says it was never informed that this equipment -- including a component where the transponder was installed -- was not new and had been repaired because of earlier problems.

(On the matter of civil litigation, please see this from -- but also note the reader comments, which appear to reflect what Brazilian authorities fear most: a possible political backlash over the blatant seven-month-long attempt to scapegoat the American pilots for what was in fact a series of terrible air-traffic control errors on the ground and likely technical failures of both in-flight and on-ground equipment.)

Our Sao Paulo bureau chief Richard Pedicini has painstakingly translated the full 22,000-word ExcelAire report into English (it was submitted in Portuguese) and I'll be posting key parts in coming days.

This is important to note: None of the facts in this report regarding the minute-by-minute account of what happened on the ground and in the air on Sept. 29, 2006, are in dispute, to my knowledge. When discussing this tragedy, the Brazilian authorities have been adamant in not addressing the known facts. Instead, they repeat over and over that the American pilots were at fault, pointing vaguely to the transponder issue.

I am told that authorities of the Brazilian Air Force -- which runs both civilian and military air traffic control --and the Federal Police are increasingly desperate to find some way to quickly get back on the offensive, as reality rudely barges in on their little tea party.

Stay tuned.


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