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Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Looking for scapegoats?

The latest news on last weekend's air disaster in Brazil-

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Preliminary investigations into Brazil's worst air disaster could be completed by next week and are focusing on why a smaller jet that collided with the downed plane was in a flight lane assigned to traffic going the opposite direction, authorities said Friday.

The American pilots of the executive jet involved in the high-altitude collision said they were cooperating with investigators.

Local press reports have offered conflicting versions over what led to the deadly collision last Friday between the Gol airlines Boeing 737-800 and the Embraer Legacy 600 executive jet, variously assigning blame either to the two American pilots or to air traffic controllers.

The Boeing 737 jet plunged into the Amazon jungle, killing all 154 people aboard. The Legacy was able to land safely at a military base in the rainforest and none of the seven people aboard was hurt.

The Brazilian air force said 90 bodies have been recovered from the crash site, but only 32 had been identified by Friday night. The air force said it could take several days to find all bodies because the wreckage was spread over a large area.

Authorities threw 154 rose petal over the crash site Friday afternoon in honor of the victims.

Federal police investigator Renato Sayao said Friday he was heading to Brasilia, the capital, to interview air traffic controllers and added the preliminary investigation could be completed next week.

Authorities are investigating whether the Legacy was flying in error at 37,000 feet, the altitude at which the collision occurred. Brazil keeps planes separated by 1,000-foot sky lanes, assigning odd altitudes to traffic going from north to south and even altitudes to planes bound south to north.

The Legacy pilots Joseph Lepore, of Bay Shore, N.Y., and Jan Paladino, of Westhampton Beach, N.Y., have repeatedly told investigators they never turned off the device that transmits a plane's location and believed that it was working just before the collision.

Burson-Marsteller, a public relations firm hired by ExcelAire, the company that owns the Legacy, said Friday the pilots remained at an undisclosed location in Rio de Janeiro and that they were doing everything possible to cooperate with Brazilian authorities.

"ExcelAire's pilots have responded to all inquires of the investigating authorities, submitted themselves to all requested medical examinations and investigative interviews and (are) committed to doing what it can to assist in the successful conclusion of the investigation," the company said in a statement.

"The Brazilian Air Force has stated that the investigation has not yet reached any conclusion regarding possible cause of or responsibility for the accident. As a result any speculation about those causes or responsibility is premature," it added.
I blogged previously about this crash. In that post I gave a history of all major mid-air crashes since 1960.

First I'll say its amazing that one plane stayed up in the air after the incident. Mid-airs are statisically the least survivable type of air disaster. Mostly because airplanes if damaged, easily lose their ability to stay in the air. Most mid-airs inflict substantial nonrecoverable damage.

Its interesting that Brazilian authorities are already making conclusions. Most US air crash investigations go on for months, even years. How can anyone know for sure what happened a week after the crash.

You'd be surprised, but mid-air collisions can be exceedingly complex. Take for instance the 1978 San Diego disaster. Many small events or errors took place to form that tragedy. Here is the NTSB report if you care to read it and there was even some dissent over that reports final conclusions.

The San Diego crash looked simple(Clear weather, The flying area under air traffic control, experienced flight crews in both aircraft) but turned out to be complex. So I question how Brazilian authorities can be so close to knowing what happened a week ago. Could they be rushing to judgment? The 1976 Zagreb disaster saw one ATC become a scapegoat where in fact many people were to blame. I hope those investigating the Gol Airlines disaster avoid a repetition of Zagreb. Let there be justice, but make certain the blame is placed where it really belongs.

Linked t0- TMH's Bacon Bits, Clash of Civilizations, Stop the ACLU,

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