'Plane faults' behind Brazil crash

Faulty airbrakes and engine throttle suspected as causes of Brazil plane crash.

    The July 17 crash killed all 187 people aboard the TAM passenger jet and 12 more on the ground [AFP] 

    Faulty spoilers

    The congressional commission charged with investigating air safety in the country following the crash did not review the data recorder information publicly.

    However, its leaked contents appeared on the websites of major Brazilian daily newspapers and were posted on the website of the chamber of deputies, the lower house of congress.

    The Folha de S. Paulo, a Sao Paulo newspaper, reported that according to the flight data recorder one of the plane's throttles was in the wrong position as it touched down, causing it to speed up instead of slow down.

    The pilots were then unable to activate the spoilers as they touched down on the short, rain-soaked runway.

    Screams heard

    In the recordings, Henrique Stephanini Di Sacco, one of the pilots, is heard to say: "Only one reverser. Spoiler nothing," giving the first indication that something was wrong.

    "Look at that. Slow down, slow down," said co-pilot Kleyber Lima, 54.

    Di Sacco replied: "I can't. I can't. Oh my God! Oh my God!"

    Lima's last words were: "Go! Go! Turn! Turn! Turn!"

    The recording ends with screams followed by an explosion.

    TAM previously acknowledged that one of the jet's two thrust reversers, used to slow planes during landings, were inoperative.

    Airbus, who manufactured the plane, issued a safety advisory to its customers last week stressing the need for pilots to follow proper landing procedures when a thrust reverser is not working.

    Government criticised

    Speculation about the crash had also focused on the urban airport's runway, which is so short that international pilots are warned to abort landings if they make any errors while touching down.

    The transcript details appear to take some pressure off the Brazilian government, blamed for failing to improve the airport's runway, which pilots worldwide liken to landing on an aircraft carrier.

    The administration of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the Brazilian president, has been widely criticised for failing to do more to address aviation problems since last September, when a Gol passenger plane went down in the Amazon last September, killing 154 people.

    The crash touched off months of flight delays, cancellations and work stoppages.

    J A Donoghue, editor-in-chief of Aerosafety World, attacked the government's public probe of the accident.

    Donoghue said: "The accident investigation process is not going along according to international standard practices.

    "Holding an accident investigation in public is usually not the way it's done. It's usually done in a quiet, academic way, as quickly as possible but also taking time to get a complete picture."


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