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Airbus A320 Plane crash, [JJ 3054]

17 July 2007

TAM Airlines Flight 3054 (JJ 3054) was a scheduled domestic passenger flight between Porto Alegre and São Paulo, Brazil. departing Porto Alegre at 17:16 It crashed upon landing at Congonhas-São Paulo International Airport in São Paulo at 18:50 local time (21:50 UTC). The runway condition was given as wet and slippery; wind was reported from 330 degrees at 8 knots.The Airbus A320 aircraft, PR-MBK crashed upon landing during rain in São Paulo on July 17, 2007. PR-MBK overran the runway, crossed a major thoroughfare during rush hour, it crashed at high speed into a TAM Express warehouse adjacent to a gas station and exploded. There were 187 people on board: 181 passengers, 19 of them were TAM employees, and 6 crew members. All passengers and crew were killed in the crash, in addition to twelve people on the ground. As of 2007, Flight 3054 has the highest death toll of any aviation accident in Latin America and the highest death toll of any accident involving an Airbus A320 anywhere in the world. State crime scene investigators terminated the search for remains on July 28, 2007; as of that date, 114 bodies recovered from the site.

The aircraft was dispatched with the thrust reverser on the number 2 (right-side) engine deactivated as it had jammed. TAM said in a statement that a fault in a reverser "does not jeopardize landings." In the same statement TAM also said "no mechanical problem had been recorded on July 16" It was reported that the plane had difficulty braking on the same runway one day prior to the fatal accident.

Reviews by government officials of a surveillance videos showed that despite the aircraft touching down at the normal touch-down point on the runway, it did not slow down normally, crossing the far end of the runway at around 90 knots (103 mph, 162 km/h). The aircraft, bearing to the left, continued off the end of the runway, clearing, barely airborne, the airport perimeter fence. The runway is elevated above the surrounding area, . After clearing the road, the aircraft exploded on impact with a four-story TAM Express facility, resulting in a large fire.

Flight Data Recorder (FDR) information recovered after the crash and released by Brazilian authorities showed that immediately prior to touchdown, both thrust levers were in CL (or "climb") position, with engine power being governed by the flight computer's autothrottle system. Two seconds prior to touchdown, an aural warning, "retard, retard," was issued by the flight's computer system, advising the pilots to "retard" the thrust lever to the recommended idle or reverse thrust lever position. This would disengage the aircraft's autothrottle system, with engine power then being governed directly by the thrust lever's position.

The cockpit voice recorder transcript indicates that the spoilers did not activate after touchdown.

At the moment of touchdown, the spoiler lever was in the "ARMED" position. According to the system logic of the A320's flight controls, in order for the spoilers to automatically deploy upon touchdown not only must the spoiler lever be in the "ARMED" position, but both thrust levers must be at or close to the "idle" position. The FDR transcript shows that immediately after the warning, the flight computer recorded the left thrust lever being retarded to the rear-most position, activating the thrust reverser on the left engine, while the right thrust lever remained in the CL position. The right engine accelerated to a power setting corresponding to the "climb" position of the thrust lever, while the left engine deployed its thrust reverser. The A320's spoilers did not deploy during the landing run, as the right thrust lever was above the "idle" setting required for automatic spoiler deployment.

Data from the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder (CVR) . Based on preliminary data from the FDR, on July 25 Airbus cautioned A320 operators to ensure that both thrust levers are set to idle during flare.The transcript of the CVR was released on August 1. It shows that the pilots were aware of the wet runway conditions and the deactivated thrust reverser. The pilots' comments suggest that the spoilers did not deploy and that they were unable to slow the aircraft. Crew error has not been ruled out.

In February 2007, a Brazilian judge briefly banned flights in and out of the airport. The Airbus A320 was not among the aircraft banned, due to its manufacturer-stated braking distance being shorter than those of the banned aircraft. Pilots had complained that water had been accumulating on the runway, reducing aircraft braking performance and occasionally causing planes to hydroplane.


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