Tuesday, December 05, 2006

U.S. pilots held in Brazil to go home

This sounds like very good news: Reuters is reporting that the two corporate pilots involved in the mid-air accident over Brazil in late September may be allowed to come home at last.

Reuters says:
A court statement said Joseph Lepore, 42, and Jan Paladino, 34, would get their passports back after 72 hours, during which the police would take further testimony. The two must promise to show up when needed for the investigation and legal process.

"The measure of restricting the freedom of movement for foreigners is not backed by the domestic legal system," the statement said after the court ruled in favor of a writ seeking relief from unlawful detainment.
Until now, the pilots were prohibited from leaving Brazil until the investigation was completed. Their passports were seized by Brazilian authorities right after the accident.
Their forced stay caused a wave of protest from U.S. pilots' associations, who urged the Brazilian authorities to conduct the investigation under widely accepted international guidelines for civil aviation and not as a criminal probe.

"The judges noted that collecting technical evidence can take a long time, 10 months or even more. It wouldn't be appropriate to keep them here the entire time," a court spokesman said.

While officials and the Brazilian media were quick to accuse the U.S. pilots in the first few weeks after the crash, media attention has recently shifted toward air traffic controllers, who complain of an excessive workload, low pay and blind spots in radar coverage.
Still unresolved is why collision avoidance systems apparently did not work to prevent the collision between the two aircraft, which were flying at the same altitude.

Source: Brazil to let US pilots go home after crash probe - Reuters AlertNet

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