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Brazil police: 10 at fault for air crash

Date: 11/20/2008

Associated Press Writer
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) _ A police investigation found that 10 government and airline officials were to blame for Brazil’s worst air disaster, saying they failed to properly train pilots, implement rainy day procedures or fully repair the airport’s drainage system, authorities said Wednesday.

It will be up to Brazilian prosecutors, however, to file formal charges — which could result in up to six years of prison.

An investigation by Sao Paulo state civil police blamed officials from Brazilian regulators and TAM airlines for the crash, a police investigator on the case said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to discuss the matter.

TAM Flight 3054, an Airbus A320, landed in driving rain at Sao Paulo’s Congonhas airport in July 2007, speeding down the runway and crashing into a gas station and air cargo building at 109 mph (175 kph).

All 187 people aboard and 12 people on the ground died.

The police report blames government officials for the failure to set stricter rainy-day landing rules for the short runway or to fully repair its drainage system. Airline officials were blamed for poor pilot training.

Among those named in the report are: Denise Abreu, former director of Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency — known as ANAC; Jose Carlos Pereira, former president of Infraero, which oversees airport infrastructure; and Marco Santos, TAM’s safety director, among others.

The police official also said the report confirmed that one of the thrust reversers on the plane — which help to slow aircraft upon landing — was not functional.

TAM has said it had allowed planes to fly without a thrust reverser based on government-approved safety measures. It also said it followed Airbus maintenance rules that said the plane was safe to fly.

ANAC, Infraero and TAM Linhas Aereas SA declined comment, saying they had not yet received a copy of the investigative report.

A separate investigation into the crash is being conducted by Brazil’s Air Force.


Associated Press writer Marco Sibaja contributed to this report from Brasilia.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

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