Amazon Legacy 600 Midair Collision Case Closed

BJT contributor Joe Sharkey was one of the passengers onboard the flight.

A Brazilian federal judge has extinguished the case against two U.S. pilots of an Embraer Legacy 600 that collided in September 2006 with a Boeing 737 over the Amazon. The judge ruled that too much time had passed for a sentence to be imposed.

Joseph Lepore and Jan Paul Paladino were piloting the aircraft on its delivery flight to ExcelAire on Long Island when Brazilian air traffic control cleared them on a collision course with a B737-800 operating as Gol Flight 1907. The midair collision sheared the Boeing’s wing, and all 154 aboard died in what was then the country’s worst air disaster. The Legacy 600 made an emergency landing with all seven aboard uninjured, including journalist Joe Sharkey, who was on assignment for Business Jet Traveler.

RIP, Business Travel Columnist Joe Sharkey

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RIP, Business Travel Columnist Joe Sharkey

The award-winning writer, who contributed to BJT for many years, has died at age 77.

Among the factors leading to the collision were the Legacy’s transponder not transmitting for an undetermined reason, disabling the TCAS, and a series of failures by Brazil's military-run ATC. Several controllers were found guilty by criminal and military courts.

The American pilots were eventually sentenced to three years and three months of alternative penalty for failing to observe the “TCAS Off” message. But the NTSB disagreed with the safety investigation’s conclusions, and the specific charge—placing an aircraft in danger—has no equivalent in the U.S., making the crime non-extraditable.

The judge blamed the “lack of cooperation from the United States” for the lapse of time, which means that under Brazilian law, the sentence can no longer be enforced. In extinguishing the penalty, the judge canceled warrants and also ordered the federal police to have the pilots’ names removed from the Interpol red list, where they have been since 2017.