The International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA) has called on Brazilian authorities to release two U.S. pilots detained in the country following the midair collision between an Embraer Legacy business jet and a Gol Airlines Boeing 737.
"This tragic accident saddened the civil aviation community worldwide and has galvanized us to discover and correct its causes," IAOPA President Phil Boyer wrote to Brazil's minister of justice, Márcio Thomaz Bastos.
"But, detaining the two pilots will only hinder the investigation."
The Brazilian government is conducting a criminal investigation simultaneously with the accident investigation. It seized the passports of the two U.S. citizens flying the Legacy jet to prevent them from leaving the country during the investigation.
Boyer noted that international agreements and guidance discourage the "inappropriate" use of safety information, including use for criminal prosecution.
"The presumption of criminal intent in conjunction with an aircraft accident investigation will stifle and thwart the objective of the investigation," Boyer said.
He also noted that since no criminal charges have been brought against the pilots in the accident, "there is apparently little evidence that would indicate a criminal act has been committed, [and] therefore they should be released."
IAOPA is a federation of 64 autonomous, nongovernmental, national general aviation organizations. IAOPA is the official voice of GA before international bodies such as ICAO.
IAOPA headquarters are in Frederick, Maryland (USA), with regional vice presidents in Switzerland, South Africa, Colombia, Brazil, and Japan.
November 27, 2006