The pilot of the helicopter that dropped off the radar on New Year’s Eve was once banned from flying for two years for serious safety violations.
The aircraft lost contact with air traffic control as it flew over Caraguatatuba, Brazil, at 3:10 pm on Sunday (31 Dec).
Four people were on board, including mum Luciana Rodzewics, daughter Letícia Ayumi Rodzewics Sakumoto, and family friend Raphael Torres.
Raphael is also a friend of the pilot, Cassiano Tete Teodoro, who – it has now emerged – had his flying licence revoked in September 2021.
According to Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency (Anac), he evaded inspections, made fraudulent flight plans, and was involved in clandestine air transportation.
The allegations, which a court later ruled were true, came after an inspection at Campo de Marte Airport, São Paulo, in 2019.
This airport was where Sunday’s flight departed from around 1:15 pm, bound for Ilhabela.
The sanction Teodoro, 44, received is the heaviest Anac can issue.
He received a two-year flying ban and had to redo all his training courses so he could regain his licence.
Teodoro achieved that goal in October 2023 but remained banned from commercial aviation.
The Brazilian Air Force was still looking for the missing Robinson R44.
The area being searched is covered in dense forest.
En route, the helicopter made an emergency landing “in the middle of the bush”, according to a text Letícia, 20, sent to her boyfriend.
She later sent him a video showing them diverting to another destination on the mainland after giving up on Ilhabela.
The clip shows how the visibility at the time was zero.
The young woman’s aunt, Sílvia Santos, said: “Letícia’s father said her phone started ringing, but we’re trying, and it just goes to voicemail.
“My sister’s is active, rings, rings, and no one answers.”
Luciana, 45, works as a saleswoman in the food industry and her daughter is a nail stylist.
Rafael, 41, is a businessman.
According to Letícia’s Instagram, she is engaged.