Just after another Brazilian aviation tragedy snuffed out the lives of 200 people in Sao Paulo Tuesday night comes word from the International Federation of Air Line Pilots Association that airports there should be built with better Runway Safety Areas (RSAs).
At the risk of sounding callous, the airport didn’t kill anyone. The pilots evaluated the situation and decided to land based on what they thought the aircraft was capable of.
Someone asked today if I thought the pilots knew what was going to happen and if they would have continued had they realized. Of course not.
But complacency about the risks is always a threat hanging above the head of anyone who flies. We always think we can make it. But sometimes the deck gets stacked against us and we don’t recognize the mounting pressures for what they really are.
Was there company pressure on the pilots to get the full flight home to Sao Paulo? Perhaps Was this yet one more example of an incompetent aviation bureaucracy in Brazil? Probably a factor. Did the pilots simply screw up? Always a chance.
This video, just released on Brazil’s UOL News network, shows the airport on the night of the accident.
Unless it has been doctored, it claims to show video comparisons between the fatal TAM airplane just before the crash vs. other flights that night. If they are accurate, the TAM aircraft was moving one heck of a lot faster across the ground at touchdown than other airplanes.
Warning … the last segment of this video shows the TAM aircraft going off the end of the runway and a huge orange fireball erupting just off camera.
The question I’m still asking myself is why IFALPA is wasting time and energy issuing statements that tell us what we already know.
How about a statement instead that says “Stay the hell out of Brazil because there are too many scary things happening there for us to be able to say the Brazilian system is safe. And we don’t have any confidence in Brazilian aviation officials to fix and until they do, we don’t want to risk the lives of one more pilot, crewmember or passenger from any country.”
If Brazilian aviation officials won’t listen, it’s their country.
But the rest of the world needs to stop hiding their heads in the sand when any trip includes a stop in Brazil.