Release #07.034
June 8, 2007

ALPA Outraged Over Indictment of U.S. Pilots

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Capt. Terry McVenes, Executive Air Safety Chairman of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), issued the following statement in response to the indictment of two pilots involved in a 2006 midair collision over Brazil. Judge Murilo Mendes of the Brazilian Federal Court recently indicted the pilots under Section 261 of the Brazilian Penal Code.

“I express the outrage of all 60,000 members of the Air Line Pilots Association when I condemn the recent indictment handed down against the crewmembers involved in the mid-air collision over Brazil.

“The goal of accident investigation is to learn all we can about how to prevent a similar tragedy from ever happening again. The legacy of this accident must be to make an already extraordinarily safe air transportation system even safer. Criminalizing those involved does nothing to achieve that goal.

“ALPA’s International Safety Committee has placed a high priority on developing regulatory and investigative policies that will prevent the criminalization of aircraft incidents and accidents throughout the world. While ALPA has been successful in many places, some factions unfortunately remain intent on fixing blame rather than improving safety.

“The threat of criminal prosecution thwarts information gathering and data sharing, which form the foundation of accident investigation. Exposing professional airmen to prosecution for alleged mistakes is misguided and incompatible with preventing future accidents.

“The Brazilian judge’s action also blatantly disregards the international guidance of ICAO Annex 13, which states that ‘there should be no criminal liability without intent to do harm.’ The Brazilian justice system is not acting in its country’s best interests if it fails to respect international principles agreed to by nations around the globe.

“ALPA will relentlessly protect pilots’ rights and vehemently oppose their criminalization so that our society honors all who have suffered as a result of an airline accident by making theirs a legacy of a safer air transportation system.”

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union representing more than 60,000 cockpit crewmembers at 41 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. For more information, visit the ALPA website at

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ALPA Contact: Pete Janhunen, Linda Shotwell, Molly Martin 703-481-4440