2007 Brazil air crash blamed on authorities, airline: report


SAO PAULO (AFP) — An official probe into the 2007 Sao Paulo plane crash that killed 199 people has blamed the accident on the pilots, Airbus, the airline and the airport authorities, reports said.

The Criminal Investigations unit from the public safety ministry delivered its findings in a 2,500-page report after a lengthy 16-month investigation, the O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper reported.

Investigators concluded the national civil aviation authority, which did not close the airport on the night of July 17, 2007 despite heavy rains, was primarily to blame for allowing flights to land despite the bad weather.

The TAM airline Airbus 320 carrying 187 people overran the runway while landing at Sao Paulo’s Congonhas airport, crossed a road and slammed into an airport building.

The head of the authority’s airport infrastructure unit, Anderson Ribeiro Correia, rejected the probe’s findings and denied any safety rules had been violated.

“The agency’s regulations were followed in Congonhas before the accident. All the runway criteria were met,” said Ribeiro.

The probe also faulted the authorities for failing to ensure that the runway was properly constructed with grooves to drain away excess water.

Investigators also blamed manufacturer Airbus for failing to provide adequate alarms to signal to the pilots that the braking system was failing, as well as the Tam airline for not properly training the pilots, who failed to act correctly in the emergency, the media said.

The findings will be studied by the police to see if any charges are to be brought, a spokesman for the public security ministry told AFP, without confirming the content of the report.

According to the O Estado newspaper, those blamed for the accident could be charged with endangering transport safety and manslaughter, charges which carry up to three years in prison.