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Report: Throttle error likely in Brazil air crash

  • Story Highlights
  • Flight recorder suggests that a thrust lever was in "accelerate" position
  • Transcript: "Only one reverser," "slow down, slow down, slow down"
  • Crash killed all 187 people aboard and at least 12 on the ground
  • Congressional committee is probing the ongoing aviation crisis
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SAO PAULO, Brazil (Reuters) -- A lever used to control engine speed was in the wrong position when a Brazilian plane crashed last month and likely was a major cause of the country's worst air accident, according to flight recorder transcripts published by a newspaper Wednesday.

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The July 17 TAM airliner crash killed 199 people, including 12 on the ground.

An Airbus A320 operated by Brazilian carrier TAM Linhas Aereas barreled off the runway upon landing at Congonhas airport in Sao Paulo July 17, crashed into a cargo terminal and burst into flames. All 187 people aboard and at least 12 more on the ground were killed.

Data from the flight recorder suggests that the thrust lever for one of the turbines was in "accelerate" position, Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper reported.

The newspaper said a pilot error was likely but didn't rule out a failure of the aircraft's computer.

One of the aircraft's thrust reversers, which are used to help brake, was inoperative, TAM had previously said. In that case, both throttle levers should have been in the "idle" position during landing approach and in the "full reverse" position on the runway, Folha reported.

Airbus issued a safety advisory to its customers last week stressing the need for pilots to follow proper landing procedures when a thrust reverser is not working.

Folha also published parts of the cockpit conversation moments before the crash, which it said it obtained from an unnamed source.

"Only one reverser," "slow down, slow down, slow down," and "I can't, I can't, I can't," the transcript reads.

Aviation authorities investigating the crash handed over data from the flight recorder to a congressional committee probing an ongoing aviation crisis.

They are also investigating other possible causes of the accident, including a runway known to be slippery and other mechanical problems.

The union representing pilots and flight attendants cautioned Tuesday against jumping to conclusions about what caused the crash.

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"We need to let the professionals conclude the investigations, police are not qualified to do the job," Celio Eugenio de Abreu Jr., told Reuters.

Air travel in Brazil has been in chaos since 154 people were killed last September when a Boeing 737 clipped wings in midair with a private jet and crashed in the Amazon jungle. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2007 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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