Release #06.063
November 16, 2006

ALPA and IFALPA Call for Immediate Release for Legacy Pilots

WASHINGTON, D.C. --- Both the U.S. pilots union and their international umbrella federation are calling for the release of the two American pilots who are being detained in Brazil pending the investigation of a tragic midair collision there.

The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), which represents most airline pilots in the U.S., fully supports the following announcement issued today by the International Federation of Air Line Pilots Associations (IFALPA), of which ALPA is a member:

“The International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) calls on the Brazilian authorities to expedite the conclusion of an independent technical investigation into the circumstances surrounding the tragic mid-air collision between a Gol Airlines B-737 and an Excelair Embraer Legacy business jet, and to release the findings of this investigation in a timely fashion.

“Thus far, only contradictory facts, rumor and unsupported allegations have been forthcoming from Brazilian government officials. To date there has been no indication from the Court, which has retained the passports of the Excelair pilots, that it has made any objective assessment of the circumstances surrounding the event.

“Furthermore, the Federation notes that there are internationally agreed procedures enshrined by treaty that allow countries to pursue appropriate criminal prosecutions against citizens of another state if sufficient evidence can be presented to show that an internationally recognised crime has been committed.

“Therefore, there is no valid reason for the continued detention of the two Excelair pilots. As a result, the Federation demands that the Brazilian authorities immediately return the passports of the Excelair pilots and that these pilots be allowed to return to their homes forthwith.”

The action by the Brazilian authorities reflects a disturbing trend in worldwide aviation to impose criminal sanctions on individuals who are involved in aviation accidents. Criminal prosecution is rare in the U.S. It is unfair and unwarranted in all but a very few extremely egregious cases. More importantly, it works against the public interest in preventing future accidents because it inhibits the free flow of information that is crucial to uncovering the causes of accidents and taking corrective measures.

ALPA, founded in 1931, represents 61,000 airline pilots at 40 U.S. carriers. Its website is IFALPA, through its member associations, represents more than 100,000 airline pilots in more than 95 countries. Its website is at

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CONTACT: Gideon Ewers, IFALPA Media Communications Officer
+44 1932 579041 or e-mail at