Friday, June 01, 2007

Brazil: Relatives Pan Documentary

I was apparently misinformed the other day when I said that relatives of the victims of the 154 people who died in the Sept. 29 mid-air collision were positive in their reviews of a Discovery Channel Brazil documentary/dramatization that will be shown on Brazilian television next week.

Evidently, some who were given an advance screening were very displeased because, they said, the program shows that air traffic control was at fault and fails to blame the American pilots. The relatives and their representatives have been adamant in insisting (absurdly) that the Americans were the chief culprits in the disaster. The relatives have said they might seek action to block the showing of the program, but our Sao Paulo bureau chief, Richard Pedicini, says that prior restraint in this matter is highly unlikely.

Mr. Pedicini, listened to the audio broadcast of a congressional panel's interview with Jorge Andre Cavalcante and others who represent some relatives of some of the victims. Victims families have sued the pilots and their employer ExcelAir, the Long Island charter company that had just purchased the Legacy 600 that collided with the Gol 737 after a series of catastrophic system breakdowns and human errors in Brazilian air traffic control put the two aircraft on a head-on course at 37,000 feet over the Amazon.

Mr. Pedicini reports: (the links below are from the congressional hearing and are in Portuguese. To hear the testimony (in Portuguese), you need to click on the box to the left of the name)

All audio CPI, index:

Audio of Constantino and Cavalcante at CPI.

Below links go to roughly same article. Have translated extract only.

RELATIVES – For the documentary launching, which occurred yesterday in São Paulo, the channel invited two representatives of the victims' relatives. The reactions were not exactly of satisfaction regarding the content.

For the president of the Association of Relatives of the Victims of the Gol Accident, Jorge André Cavalcante, there were stretches that were "biased", favorable to the defense of the Legacy pilots, the North Americans Joseph Lepore and Jan Paul Paladino.

"It appears to me that the blame for what occurred stayed only in Brazil, with the air traffic controllers. They erred, but the North American pilots also erred on turning off the anti-collision system", Cavalcante said, also according to G1.

Another member of the association, Neusa Filipeto Machado, was more severe. "The documentary showed the Legacy pilots as heroes. There's nothing heroic about them, they were irresponsible and imprudent", she said, at the end of the session.

Relatives who did not take part in the launching threatened to impede the showing of the program, in case all the families don't have prior access to the content. The Diaro's reporters sought the Discovery channel's press officers by email, without a response.

My note: As I have said till we're all blue in the face, there has been no evidence produced that the pilots turned off the transponder, either intentionally (which would have been insane) or even inadvertently (which could be possible, but hasn't been shown to be the case). There is an assertion -- discussed in detail in a section of the lengthy and crucial report ExcelAire filed in April with the Federal Police -- that the transponder equipment installed in the new Legacy has previously failed and was repaired, without ExcelAire being aware of it at purchase. Whatever, the transponder issue is the least important in a chain of events that led to the accident.


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