Condition, Safety Of Runway In Question
ANN REALTIME UPDATE
07.18.07 0300 EDT: Rescue efforts continue at the scene of
Tuesday's apparent runway overrun accident at Brazil's
Congonhas-Sao Paulo Airport... but with reports of as many as 200
killed in the flaming crash, the focus may shift soon to a recovery
Here's what we know so far. As reported earlier, the TAM Airbus
A320 apparently slid off the runway while landing at the airport,
crossing a highway and slamming into a gas station and a second
building, believed to be a structure used by the airline. The jet,
Flight 3054 inbound from Porto Alegre, was carrying 176 people.
Band News television reports another 25 on the ground were
Local media reports state eight persons have been rescued. It is
unclear whether they were passengers on the airliner or bystanders
on the ground.
"This could be the worst plane crash ever in Brazil," airline
analyst Amaryllis Romano told Bloomberg. "I'm numb. It's something
that you always feared could happen but never really thought
Preliminary investigation efforts have focused on the condition
of the runway at the congested airport.
CBS News reports that in February, a Brazilian judge granted a
court order forbidding some aircraft types from landing at
Congonhas, due to inadequate surface grooving and improper drainage
that led rainwater to pool on the runway surface.
There were also concerns about runway length -- the judge said
the longest runway had to be extended another 1,275 feet to safely
accomodate those planes. Congonhas has two parallel runways --
17R/35L at 6,365 feet long and 17L/35R at 4,708 feet long.
The stop affected Fokker 100s, and
Boeing 737-800s and 737-700s -- aircraft very close in size to the
A320. That order was later revoked by a second judge, but not
before the airport shut down 18 times due to flooded runways.
Infraero, the Brazilian airport authority, was said to be
working to improve drainage on the airport's two runways. It had
rained in Sao Paulo shortly before the crash.
Built in the 1930s, Congonhas is Brazil's busiest airport. Last
year the facility handled some 18.5 million passengers --
half-again its official rated capacity.
ANN REALTIME UPDATE 07.17.07 1858 EDT:
According to media coverage on scene, fire officials confirmed
there have been six people rescued so far and taken to area
hospitals for treatment and one body has been removed.
All air activity has been suspended at Congonhas-Sao Paulo
"At this moment, we cannot determine the extent of possible
injuries suffered by the airplane's occupants and crew members,"
the airline said in a statement.
There was a brief ban of large jets taking of and landing at the
airport in February of this year due to safety concerns.
But an appeals court overruled the ban on three types of
aircraft on the grounds it was have serious economic ramifications
and the presented safety concerns were not enough to warrant a
Original Report: A TAM Airline A320 has crashed
in Sao Paula, Brazil, at the Sao Paulo Airport. CNN is reporting at
least 170 people were on board, no word on survivors as of yet but
casualties among persons on the ground are being reported.
Initial reports indicate the jet was either in the process of
landing and went off the end of the runway or went down at a very
low altitude and crashed into a gas station near the end of the
runway across the street.
Other reports indicate the jet impacted a TAM Airlines building
before coming to rest.
Media sources are saying it has been a "very wet and rainy
day" and says there is standing water on that particular runway.
There have been problems there before with standing water on the
runway, but reports are that the airport has been taking steps to
correct the problem.
Just 24 hours before, a lighter unknown-type aircraft hit
standing water on this same runway and ran off into the grass - no
one was injured.
The airport is located in a heavily populated area.