Airbus Washes Hands of Brazil’s Deadliest Air Crash

    Burned wing of Tam Airbus in Congonhas, São Paulo, Brazil

    Burned wing of Tam Airbus in Congonhas, São Paulo, Brazil The Airbus that crashed in São Paulo, Brazil, last month, killing 199 people showed no sign of mechanical fault, a representative for the European aircraft manufacturer told the Brazilian Congress.

    "We don't see any indication of a fault," Airbus vice-president for flight safety, Yannick Malinge, told a congressional committee, in reference to data retrieved from the plane's cockpit recorders.

    On July 17, a TAM airline Airbus 320 overran the runway while landing at São Paulo's Congonhas airport, crossed a road and slammed into an airport building, exploding into a fireball.

    All 187 people aboard the plane were killed, along with at least 12 people on the ground, in Brazil's worst air tragedy.

    "Available data shows the aircraft's brakes functioned correctly," Mr Malinge said. But he said one of the engine's throttles was in the "climb" position.

    The plane was also operating with only one of its two thrust reversers, which are used to help slow the plane upon landing.

    "Evidently when there's an accident no hypothesis can be discarded," said Malinge.

    Brazilian air controller Celso Domingos Alves, who authorized the Airbus 320 landing, said pilots did not report any alleged problems with the aircraft, which it has been proved had one of the engine throttles inverted.

    In spite of the Airbus alleged problems, the investigation is now focused on the landing conditions in Congonhas airport, Brazil's busiest, which does not have the necessary drainage facilities in the runway.

    The "human factor" (error) is also mentioned as very significant component of Brazil's worst air accident.

    Mercopress

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    • Show Comments (24)

    • No Name

      Trying to understand the whole scenario
      I think it was the perfect storm. The Airport that the government ignored for too long with its short unfinished runway, the weather, the thruster and the airbus computer system. To me, the thruster which they knew about, the wet short unfinished runway is reason enough not to have that aircraft land there, throw in the airbus computer design and it all spells big trouble.

      Ric, if one throttle was in full reverse and the other in climb, how does the computer respond to that? When you say spoilers armed and ready, does that mean because the one throttle was in climb that the computer would not let the spoilers deploy? or let the pilot take the 2nd throttle out of climb and into reverse (maybe its not that simple)? In the diagram I have seen the plane veered to the left before going over the highway and into the building. Why would that happen? Because of the right thruster was the one that was out and the pilot deployed the left thruster ? What do you think?

    • No Name

      Brazilian Dude and Bo
      I agree completely. If the airport was adequate, that flight would have had a chance. Everyone knows that and seems to have known that for a long time. But if the manufacturer is aware of Airbus shortcomings, namely its computer system and those inadequacies even remotely contributed to the deaths of 200 innocent people, that deserves analysis too. But those pilots will be scapegoated to cover up that issue if it truely does exist as ric spelled out in an earlier posting. If the throttle was in the climb position, the computer system wasn’t going to let that pilot break. The trottle wouldn’t have been in the climb position if that pilot had enough room to correct his problem in the first place. hence the problem with that airport. But like Brazilian “Dude said Every tool should have human error factored in its design.The best ones do. To me that is becoming apparent in this situation. Congonhas is not the only airport on the planet that has a runway that is way too short and in a heavily populated area. Although its the most notorious. If the Airbus 320 is flying into these airports, with a computer system that will not allow manual override in any situation, seems to me thats another accident waiting to happen. And that is the Manufacturer’s fault because they know it.

    • No Name

      Avaitor
      The article you pasted the link to didn’t give too many details of what exactly went wrong with the Airbus in 1988, the scenario that this pilot was put through is pretty horrific though just for telling his version of what happened. Ruined his life. No Manual overide? Couple that with a short runway, slippery conditions and the thruster known to be out… anyway, in 1988 authorities actually switched out the black boxes to cover the problem.
      Read this http://www.airdisaster.com/investigations/af296/af296.shtml#believe
      Oy! Unreal! 😥

    • No Name

      Brazilian Dude and Ric
      Every tool should have human error factored in its design.The best ones do.

      Absolutely. I buy Ric’s scenario on the manual overide of the aircrafts computer design flaw….. regardless, the plane should never have landed at Congonhas under those conditions. Just like the last accident, there is more than one thing wrong here.

    • Ric

      Asymetrical power settings should be saved for emergencies. The ops manual guys at EADS evidently felt that the interests of the company were better served by allowing one reverser to be on and the other off since that would save money by allowing the plane to remain in service for another week. But throttles at different positions just brings back bad memories of dead engine dead foot, feather the bad one, etc., while parallel throttles feel more normal. Why push the pilot to save a few bucks? Put it in the shop. If you donÀ‚´t have adequate backup equipment stop flying pax and stick with freight.

    • Simpleton

      French plane has voice warnings in English??
      Always got a kick out of speaking Chrysler K cars. Kept yelling A DOOR IS A JAR, A DOOR IS A JAR. What the heck do you mean a door is a jar? A door is a door, a jar is something you preserve fruits and jellies in. As to the poor pilotos at the controls, I wouldn’t think the French plane had any right to call them retards.

      Anyway, basically concur with Rics explanation of the interlocks. A throttle handle reading registering as being forward of Idle does not neccessarily mean Takeoff power was still selected by the crew, the actual engine and fuel parameters recorded will show what they were actually acheiving forward thrustwise. If it’s not consistent with the handle reading you have your single point source for no spoilers, no autobrake and perhaps what was behind the prior reverser inop issue. If everything is consistent and it was never at idle, it was a crew error perhaps just trying to be cautions not to pull it to reverse (although I think the reverser should have some other lock out mechanism like a bat handle switch or a collared circuit breaker which makes that wholy unneccessary).

    • Ric

      What I think is that with the right throttle pushed forward of idle, the spoilers would not deploy, the autobrake would not deploy, the braking was nil, the asysmetrical thrust with number one in reverse and number two in takeoff mode caused the plane to yaw left. But I could easily be wrong.

      The Boeings will not start reverse thrust until all throttles are at idle. There is an interlock. Not so the A320.

      Also with the Boeing, the spoilers automatically retract upon application of thrust.

      A pilot should not select reverse unless the spoilers are confirmed to be deployed.

      In the middle of all this, the airplane is yelling at you in English, “Retard! Retard!”. That really helps.

    • Ric

      According to the data from the flight recorder, the auto pilot was off, slats and flaps full down, gear down, spoilers armed and ready for deployment, autobrake switch on, number one throttle in full reverse (takes 2 seconds to achieve max full), number two throttle in climb.

      The right or number two engine was the one with the placard against reverse thrust.

    • Simpleton

      Side to side or side out
      Think I read that the throttle registered as past flight idle was on the same side as the non-used / previously determined to be inop thrust reverser. Flaps and wheel speed with overide capabilities on one or both is probably a better solution for ground effect spoiler arming. Back to the question – did the thrust reverser inop previously determined result because it was broken or because the throttle position registration it was dependant on had a problem which the FDR faithfully lies to us about now?

    • João da Silva

      Forrest
      [quote]how long of a airstrip does it need
      civil avation ib brasil needs to coshare the military base in SP
      [/quote]

      Agreed. Do you know that we are both giving free Consulting services to ANAC and INFRAERO, though we havent been given any medals!. In our city, we do share the FAB base with the civilian “RUN WAY” (Not an Air Strip). There are two long Runways that can take even B 777 s. FAB minds its own business and the civilians mind their own. A happy Co Living.

      btw,Forrest, I feel more comfortable riding the Boeings( and guess )what, the EMBRAER. As you said in one of your earlier posts, Congonhas cant take an AIRBUS,but yes B 737,B727 and EMBRAER, can land and take off easily there.

    • forrest Brown

      dead men tail no tails
      the black boxes do not lie

      would like to know whitch side the throtel was up on the fly mode
      where were the flaps 20% or total

      air buss is not the only thing flying that has a computer snafu

      look at the space schuttle the same ones in it as the day the first one went up

      how long of a airstrip does it need
      civil avation ib brasil needs to coshare the military base in SP

    • João da Silva

      No Name
      [quote] Although its the most notorious. If the Airbus 320 is flying into these airports, with a computer system that will not allow manual override in any situation, seems to me thats another accident waiting to happen. And that is the Manufacturer’s fault because they know it.
      [/quote]

      Congonhas is indeed notorious. I dont know if you paid attention when the “Brazilian Dude” called it an ” Air Strip” and not an “Air Port”. You know as well as I do that there is a big difference between these two. I have landed in many air ports in some countries,including the one in the state where you live in (U.S) and I have never seen something similar to the one in Congonhas.

      Imagine an A 320 with almost a full load (if I recall, just 2 tons less its capacity) trying to land on an air strip, with a slippery runway and with one reverse thruster not funcioning.

      I dont think it is not only the ManufacturerÀ‚´s fault. A good friend of mine who is a big shot here said that the it is the fault of a) The government b) TAM c) Airbus, in that order and told me to think about it!

      You all think about it too. As our friend Forrest said, it is easy to beat on the dead horse. I might add that the dead men leave no tales.

    • bo

      [quote]No matter what happened with the pilot or plane, the reason that there are 200 dead people is the inadequacy of the airport and landing strip. The place has no safety margin whatsoever, and any situation in which there is a less-than -perfect performance from plane and/or pilot will result in a massive clusterfuuck like the one we saw.[/quote]

      That is undebateable!

    • Brazilian Dude

      Let me make this clear:
      No matter what happened with the pilot or plane, the reason that there are 200 dead people is the inadequacy of the airport and landing strip. The place has no safety margin whatsoever, and any situation in which there is a less-than -perfect performance from plane and/or pilot will result in a massive clusterfuuck like the one we saw.
      There’s absolutely no way of ignoring that.
      But mr Osama Bin Lula and his pals will do their best.

    • forrest Brown

      good greef
      again we are trying to ride a dead horse

      we still are trying to point the blame at thoes whom are not here to defend themselves , or going after the ones whom have money so they can be sued over this .

      my friends look to brasilia , and like the US it stArts at the house of congress and filters all the wayh down to the shoe shine boy

      every one wants a bite but no one wants to admit the problum is
      out there and it is brasil way of life

    • João da Silva

      Aviator
      In case you dindt know, the Airbus execs washed off their hands.Still I insist that the final report will show that the TAM 3504 creashed because of the “Pilot Error”.Just wait and see.

    • Brazilian Dude

      Still got my ear to the ground, JoÀƒ£o…
      This one is much messier than the other one. It was a real gagglefuuck,and the info is still flying around the political corridors.What IS sure is that the airport was inadequate, but that is old,old news.
      This one is stil in processing.

    • João da Silva

      No Name/Ch.c
      Will you both be quiet,please? lets hear what the good Dude has to say? 8)

    • ch.c.

      It doesnt smell good ! Who takes the bet ?
      I am quite sure that the Brazilian authorities are again hiding important details.
      These details will accuse Brazil Air Transportation and their filty government members.

      It is already all “dÀƒ©jÀƒÂ  vu” ! Just look at the news sequence of the previous plane crash.

      Far more news will come out shortly. As usual !

    • Aviator

      Airbus technology defects
      Heard something about this story?: http://jacno.com/za-an-inmo.htm

    • Brazilian Dude

      Still…
      A runway long enough to correct screwups and a safety zone with passive momentum drain (like the porous concrete used in other airports) would have made a difference.
      Besides, an airplane that doesen’t follow the KISS principle is really not a good idea…
      (that’s “Keep It Simple, Stupid”. Basic for emergency or non-standard procedures, like landing minus one reverse thruster. Design flaw indeed)
      Every tool should have human error factored in its design.The best ones do.

    • João da Silva

      [quote]Once you eliminate the plane you are left with but a handful of Brazilians that were responsible.
      [/quote]

      Not a handful, but just two. Capt.Kleyber Lima and Capt.Henrique di Sacco.May their souls R.I.P. Just wait and see how the enquiry unfolds.

    • Ric

      The fact that the Airbus is set up so that the 7 computers override pilot input would not show up as a mechanical fault. ItÀ‚´s a design fault. The computer senses a throttle set to a power position and wonÀ‚´t allow the spoilers and brakes to deploy.

      I really take no pleasure in this, but native speakers of English would say, ..”washes hands…”, in the plural. In the singular it sounds odd.

    • IYF

      Occam’s Razor
      Once you eliminate the plane you are left with but a handful of Brazilians that were responsible.

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