Brazil has introduced a new law that protects information sources (such as testimony to accident investigators) from being used in court, makes airlines or owners responsible for wreckage and its removal, and clarifies investigative responsibilities. However, under the new law, flight data recordings can be used in court.
Brazilian air safety authority CENIPA says: ‘sources of information … must be preserved, because without them there is no material to prevent accidents. Therefore, the law presents a device that prohibits the use of such information as evidence in lawsuits’.
The change comes nearly eight years after two US pilots were detained, and eventually tried in absentia for their part in a collision between an Embraer Legacy business jet and a GOL Airlines Boeing 737. All 154 people on the airliner died in the accident.
Two Brazilian air traffic controllers were also tried after the accident and given suspended sentences. Brazil’s air traffic control system ground to a halt in 2006-7 after controllers began strict observance of all procedures in the wake of the GOL disaster.