'Mechanical failure didn't cause Brazil plane crash'

Airbus vice president for flight safety tells lawmakers that one of the jet's throttles may have been set in the wrong position.

brazil plane crash 298.8 (photo credit: AP)
brazil plane crash 298.8
(photo credit: AP)
Mechanical failure did not contribute to last month's crash of an Airbus A320 in Sao Paulo, a senior executive with the aircraft manufacturer said Thursday. Testifying before Brazil's congress, the Airbus executive said the flight data recorders of the ill-fated plane did not show any flaws that would have prevented the aircraft from operating normally. On July 17, TAM flight 3054 sped down the runway at Congonhas airport, Brazil's busiest, jumped a major highway and slammed into an air cargo building, killing all 187 people aboard and 12 people on the ground in Brazil's deadliest air disaster. Yannick Malinge, Airbus vice president for flight safety, told lawmakers that one of the plane's throttles may have been set in the wrong position as it touched down, causing it to speed up instead of slowing down. The Web site of Brazil's Chamber of Deputies also quoted Malinge as saying the spoilers - the aerodynamic brakes on an aircraft's wings - were working normally and that the throttles were not set to idle during the landing. Leaving the throttles open prevents a plane's spoilers and auto-braking system from functioning, according to experts quoted by local media. Malinge, who was testifying before a congressional committee investigating the nation's air safety, hinted that human errors may have been a factor in the accident. "Human factors are the most difficult ones to verify," he said. Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the crash, but suspicion has fallen on everything from problems with the jet's thrust reverser, to pilot error, to the short, slippery runway at Congonhas that provides little margin of error for pilots attempting land. Airbus is a unit of Toulouse, France-based European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company N.V.