NEW YORK – Families of the victims of Brazil's worst air disaster sued the operator and maker of a business jet that clipped the commercial airliner in midair, saying the collision caused the crash that killed all 154 people aboard.
The families listed ExcelAire Service Inc. of Ronkonkoma, N.Y. and Honeywell International Inc. as defendants in the lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.
The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, argues that the Sept. 29 crash occurred because the ExcelAire pilots were flying at an incorrect altitude and the aircraft's transponder was not functioning. The transponder, which transmits the plane's altitude and identification information and operates its automatic anti-collision system, is manufactured by Honeywell, the lawsuit said.
After the two planes collided, Gol Airlines Flight 1907 plunged into the Amazon rainforest.
Although the crash damaged the wing and tail of the smaller jet, the American pilots managed to land safely and all seven on board survived.
A spokeswoman for ExcelAire, Lisa Henrickson, said in an e-mail that the company was aware of the lawsuit and was preparing a reply.
Honeywell spokesman Bill Reavis said Monday afternoon in a statement that the Morristown, N.J., company hadn't seen the lawsuit and couldn't comment on the specific allegations.
Early speculation in Brazil pointed to errors by the U.S. pilots, but the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper, citing a flight recorder transcript it obtained, said air traffic controllers were recorded putting them on a collision course with the bigger jet.
Since the accident, the two American pilots have been held in Brazil pending the results of an investigation.