TAM AIRBUS Thrust Reverser ‘OFF’

Thursday, September 13, 2007
By George Hatcher

Tam Airlines admits a thrust reverser had been deactivated during maintenance checks.

Tam Airlines insists the deactivation was in accordance with accepted procedures. Thrust reversers assist jets to slow down on landing.

The Tam Airlines’ Airbus 320 overshot the runway at Sao Paulo’s Congonhas airport, hit buildings and exploded. Speculation continues but there is no confirmation on the crash’s cause. The same plane had problems landing at Congonhas a day prior the crash when it had barely managed to stop at the limit of the runway. The report said that the pilot told air traffic controllers it was very slippery.

The right thrust reverser was “deactivated” at the time of the accident “in conditions stipulated by the maintenance of the manufacturer Airbus and approved by [Brazil’s] National Civil Aviation Agency” according to Tam Airlines. The Airbus’s manual says an inspection can be done up to 10 days after it is first detected and that the plane can continue to operate in the meantime.

The crash occurred in wet conditions runway that has been criticized as being too short, and whose new surface had not yet been properly surfaced to handle rain.

Video footage shows a few final moments of the Tam Airlines flight, and a similar plane that had arrived earlier. The Tam plane appears to be traveling at a higher than normal speed.The first aircraft apparently takes eleven seconds to travel along the visible section, while the plane that crashed covers the same distance in three. The Airbus 320 jet appears to continue speeding along the runway without slowing, before disappearing out of view. The flash of an explosion is then seen.

The Brazilian air force believes the footage shows the plane was traveling at excessive speed, according to Globo TV. One theory speculates that the pilot tried to take off again. Instead, the aircraft crossed the road and ploughed into a Tam Airlines building.

Brig Jorge Kersul Filho, director of the Air Force’s Centre for Investigation and Prevention of Air Accidents, said, “”That he jumped over the avenue was an indication he tried to take off. If he didn’t [try to take off] he would have gone nose down at the end of the runway.”

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