Monday, September 1, 2014

Brazil: Airbus Refuses to Accept Responsibility for 2007 Crash of TAM Jetliner That Killed 199 People

According to The Latin American Tribune, Airbus has refused to take any responsibility for the greatest air tragedy in Brazil’s history, the July 2007 crash of a TAM jetliner that left 199 people dead, according to Folha de São Paulo, one of Brazil’s leading dailies on Monday (September 1). 

Attorneys representing the European aircraft manufacturers said in a Brazilian court filing that blame for the disaster at São Paulo’s Congonhas Airport rests with the cockpit crew, the airline and the poor state of the runway, the São Paulo daily said.

This is the first time that Airbus has blamed the other parties involved, including TAM, one of its biggest clients in Latin America.

An Airbus A320 operated by TAM on a rainy afternoon failed to stop when it landed at Congonhas Airport and ran off the runway, out of the airport, across a street and burst into flames against a warehouse.

All 187 people aboard the plane were killed, along with a dozen people on the ground.

The runway, which was undergoing renovations, lacked grooves to neutralize the water from its surface in rainy weather, Brazilian authorities said.

COMMENT: Airbus was responding to a lawsuit in Brazil, according to the São Paulo daily, for 350 million reais ($156.2 million) brought by Itau Seguros, TAM’s underwriter and the company responsible for paying compensation for the tragedy.

“The pilots, according to the aircraft maker, did not use the correct procedures for an airplane with an inoperable aerodynamic brake, as was the case of the A320 that day,” said the article in the Brazilian daily.

“All the factors, such as failure to comply with landing procedures, problems at Congonhas Airport and of Brazilian civil aviation, contributed directly and significantly to the accident having the dimension that it did,” law firm Levy&Salomon said in its brief on behalf of Airbus.

Brazil’s Federal Police said in 2009 that not only was the aerodynamic brake was not functioning properly during landing, but that the pilot, Capt. Kleber Lima, left a speed control lever in the position of acceleration and not in the braking position.

The Brazilian Air Force, for its part, found no proof that the pilots were responsible for problems with the aerodynamic brake, yet it is likely in their best interests to defend TAM.

Infraero, which runs the airports, according to Folha, “was the only one to refute the accusation of Airbus, arguing that the runway at Congonhas Airport was and is in good condition.”