Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The TAM disaster



Der Spiegel has a backgrounder on the state of Brazil's aviation in light of yesterday's tragedy. Brazil's Worst-Ever Air Disaster: 200 Feared Dead in Sao Paulo Crash - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News
Late last year, a Boeing aircraft operated by the airline BRA overshot the runway during rain, and on Monday of this week, a large propeller plane slid past the end of the runway and got stuck in the mud. According to the wire service Bloomberg, the airport had to shut 18 times because of runway flooding in the first quarter of this year alone.

On Tuesday night, Brazilian station TV Globo played recordings taken from the cockpits of several jets. The pilots were afraid to land at Congonhas and warned each other by radio of water puddles on the runway. "The runway is so slippery, it's as if someone smeared soap on it," one complained. Despite the fact that it had been raining for three days, Infraero never closed the runway.
You know, I'm not sure the state of Indian aviation is much better. Exploding market, inadequate infrastructure, strained ATC operators. Bombay's airport is smack in the middle of the city, surrounded by a sea of shanties (the runways are longer though -- ~9500ft and 11000+ft). Traffic density has increased tremendously in the past few years. I hope it doesn't take a disaster such as this one to spur reform and development.

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