No survivors in Brazil air crash

Questions raised about safety of airport runway after nearly 200 people killed.

Families have been asked to provide dental records as rescuers pull charred bodies from the wreckage [AFP]
Families have been asked to provide dental records as rescuers pull charred bodies from the wreckage [AFP]
Brazil’s aviation crisis

September 29, 2006 –
All 154 people on board a Boeing 737-800 owned by Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes are killed when it crashes in the Amazon after colliding with a corporate jet.

November 1 – Air traffic controllers stage work “slowdowns”, saying they were unduly blamed for putting the two jets on a collision course and to protest against strenuous labour conditions and low salaries.

December 22 – Brazil’s government orders air force transport jets to ferry civilians after TAM Linhas Aereas abruptly grounds six aeroplanes during peak travel season.

February 8, 2007 – Brazil’s airport authority says it will overhaul the main runway at Sao Paulo’s Congonhas airport, the country’s busiest, because of fears some aircraft could skid off its short landing strips.

March 30 – The airport authority suspends all departures across the country after about 100 air traffic controllers walk off the job over working conditions and safety concerns.

June 25 – President Lula says order has been restored after the government sacked 14 air traffic controllers.

She said two black boxes from the jet had been recovered and sent to the US for analysis.

The aircraft crashed while trying to land in heavy rain at Sao Paulo’s Congonhas airport on Tuesday night, crashing into a fuel depot and a TAM building.
Bo said the jet had landed in the correct place but overshot the runway.
Fires caused by the crash were brought under control on Wednesday but rescue workers continued to look for bodies.
Bologna said three TAM workers in the building were killed and five others were missing after the country’s worst-ever air crash.
Douglas Ferrari, a medical examiner, said: “It took four or five hours to reach the plane … When we arrived, it was as expected, not one trace of life and only some bodies would have the slightest chance of being identified.”
Families have been asked to provide dental records to aid in the identification process.
The crash is believed to have killed about 195 people in total, both on board and on the ground.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the Brazilian president, has ordered a three-day period of national mourning.
Investigation ordered
The runway at Sao Paulo’s Congonhas airport has been repeatedly criticised for its short length and poor drainage, and two jets slipped off it in rainy weather just a day earlier, although no one was injured in either incident.

The aircraft skidded off the runway
and crashed into a fuel depot [AFP]

The runway had been recently resurfaced but not grooved, which would have provided better breaking in rainy conditions. Regrooving of the surface was only planned for the end of July.

A union member told Al Jazeera’s Bo that workers had been raising safety concerns for months but they had gone unheeded.
Because of its short length, Congonhas is known among pilots as the “aircraft carrier”. They are instructed to touch down in the first 1,000 feet of runway, or do a go-around if they overshoot the immediate landing zone.
Brazil’s justice ministry said on Wednesday it had ordered an investigation to establish whether the runway met technical and legal security standards.
Brazil has suffered increasing aviation problems as a surge in travellers overwhelms under funded air traffic control systems.
The crash on Tuesday came only 10 months after a collision between a Gol Aerolinhas Inteligentes SA Boeing 737 and an executive jet over the Amazon rainforest killed all 154 people on the passenger aircraft, though the executive jet landed safely.
Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies


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