Joseph Lepore, Jan Paladino, Pilots In 2006 Brazil Crash, Avoid Jail

Posted May 17th 2011 08:30 AM



AP File

Two American pilots involved in one of the worst disasters in Brazil's aviation history were sentenced to community service as a result of the crash, the New York Times reports.

On Monday, Judge Muriol Mendes sentenced the two pilots, Joseph Lepore and Jan Paladino, both of New York state, to four years and four months in prison in a "semi-open" facility. The judge commuted the sentences to community service and allowed it to be served in the U.S., according to the New York Times.

The pilots were flying a private Embraer Legacy 600 executive jet over the Amazon on September 29, 2006 when it collided with a Boeing 737 operated by Gol Airlines, resulting in the deaths of 154 people.

An intense legal battle ensued with Brazilian authorities claiming negligence by the American pilots, and American officials blaming Brazil's air traffic control system.

The smaller jet was damaged, but landed safely, while the jet plunged to the ground and disintegrated on impact.

In 2009, a Brazilian prosecutor asked a judge to reinstate negligence claims against the pilots. The judge threw out those charges but upheld ones similar to America's involuntary manslaughter charges.

In the 86-page sentence, Mendes said the pilots had failed to verify their aircraft's equipment for an hour, an "eternity" in aviation.

A Brazilian air traffic controller was previously convicted in this case on charges similar to manslaughter.

Filed Under: Air Travel, News

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Was this picture taken after the verdict? Laughing and joking around after 154 people were killed? Whether it was their fault or not, if I was a family member I would be very angry about this.

May 17 2011 at 1:36 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Eric Monaghan

I don't think I would be smiling in these photos due to the deaths in this incident. However, there had to be negligence on the controllers part to have caused this to happen.

May 17 2011 at 1:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Having flow in Brazil years ago in the USAF I can say from personal experience that Brazilian air traffic control is a joke. This entire episode is a travesty of justice. The Brazilian controllers gave the wrong altitude clearance to the GOL airline. That caused the collision pure and simply. "Failing to verify their equiptment" is a made up charge of no substance.

May 17 2011 at 1:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to denny70947's comment

Independent of the altitude they were flying, they had the airborne collision avoidance system turned off so they could be free to try out their new "toy". The accident could have been prevented if the system was on. And lots of lives were lost because of it.
They should be serving their sentences in a jail in Brazil, just like a Brazilian who had committed the same act here in American soil would.

May 18 2011 at 7:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think they should have jail the traffic controlers for all of this and not put any of the blame on any of the polits of both air crafts, it was the controlers job to notifi either polit if they we getting that close together before they collided....if that had happen in US air space, who ever the controler was would have got the blame not any of the polits.....

May 17 2011 at 1:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wrong Pete!!! One of then is flying for American Airlines and the other is still employed for the same company at the time of the accident. Everybody in aviation circles knows that the trial was a charade and that the pilots were not at fault.

May 17 2011 at 12:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You people act like they did this on purpose , judge not lest ye be judged

May 17 2011 at 12:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I wonder how much the judge got paid.

May 17 2011 at 11:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The long term punishment is it is highly unlikely they will ever fly anything larger than a Cessna 172 again, and they will never fly paying pax.

May 17 2011 at 11:19 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

Time has no doubt lessened my memory BUT I seem to recall that there were some problems with the American pilots TURNING OFF their IFF responder and/or also collision avoidance devices. Given that there are sometimes great deals of money to be made in South and Central America with aircraft that are not "on the map" I've always wondered what they were doing for the time they were "off the radar" so to speak. Don't assume foreign jails/courts are corrupt; look at ours my friends.

May 17 2011 at 11:04 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Yesterdays news read Pilot get suspended for drinking on the job & blew a .05 before getting on a flight!!!
I guess If I'm a truck driver all I have to do is drink just enough to not blow a .08 & im cool right?
I'm sure I wont kill that many & if I'm caught ,I still wont be convicted of a DUI under these guidlines .
Somebody tell me where is the Logic in this? What about dont drink & drive . Dont drink & fly .
Why are passengers not gauranteed all pilots must be drug & alchohol free before flying a commercial airplane? Somebody tell me where is the Logic? Is our legal system just that dumb?
Why are these pilots not made to blow .0.0 before the plane can be started ?

May 17 2011 at 10:32 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to Roberson's comment