LI pilot testifies for Brazilian plane crash

Emotions ran high inside of Room 610 at the Central Islip Federal Courthouse yesterday, at the deposition of a Long Island co-pilot who flew a corporate jet that collided with a commercial airliner in Brazil in 2006.

Joseph Lepore, 46, of Bay Shore, wore a somber expression as he sat beside his lawyer, Joel Weiss, and testified through an interpreter. His testimony was streamed into a Brazilian courtroom through video.

Lepore remained composed, as he was peppered with questions about the electrical equipment of the airplane he was flying.

Miraculously, in the midair collision, he and the other pilot, Jan Paladino, were able to safely land the commuter plane. The Gol Boeing 737, however, crashed nose first, killing all 154 people on board. The Brazilian government charged the two American pilots with criminally negligent homicide.

“We never got an indication that there was another plane there,” said Lepore of that fateful day over the Amazon jungle. “We didn’t get any indication on our equipment. If there was another airplane, nothing came on in our cockpit.”

At one point, presiding judge Murilo Mendes stormed out of a Brazilian courtroom in frustration.

“We want the two commercial pilots to have the maximum penalty and for their pilots’ license to be revoked,” Karin Villatore, of Talk Comunicacao, an organization that represents the interests of the Brazilian flight victims, told Metro.

“They should not be flying planes,”?she said.


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