Cheat-Seeking Missles

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Update: Hero Jet Pilots In Downspin?

Hopefully, you all took my advice on Monday and read the NYTimes article by Joe Sharkey detailing the mid-air collision at 37,000 feet -- which Sharkey and his companions on a Embraer Legacy 600 jetmiraculously survived.

The article depicted the Embraer's pilot and copilot as heroes for landing the badly damaged plane safely. Now this:
Prosecutors could charge two American pilots of an executive jet with manslaughter following the high-altitude collision with a Brazilian jetliner that apparently led to a crash that killed all 155 people aboard, federal police said Wednesday.

Police seized the passports of pilots Joseph Lepore and Jan Paladino, both from New York State. The two were not arrested, but cannot leave the country. ...

Mato Grosso's acting federal police director, Geraldo Pereira, said the Federal Prosecutor's Office had ordered an investigation into "the possible commission of a crime."

"We will start investigating if the two pilots caused the accident and if they are considered guilty, they could be charged with involuntary manslaughter," Pereira said. ...

The air force said both jets were equipped with a modern traffic collision avoidance system, which monitors other planes and sets off an alarm if they get too close.

But Pereira said the Legacy's transponder, which automatically transmits electronic signals that communicate a plane's location, may not have been operating.

"Preliminary investigations indicate that the pilots may have turned off the transponder, that they knew the risks they were running and nevertheless they took certain attitudes that endangered the lives of people," he said.

If true, it explains how two modern, fully equipped aircraft could collide in clear weather. It will not explain the churning fates that surround these two men -- from heroes to the shock that their heroics did not help 155 people who died to the realization that these deaths might have been their fault.

A fine man named Paul once said that God will send nothing our way without also sending us enough strength to endure it. Let's hope these men have allowed God to be with them.