TAM airplane after landing in Brasilia: startled on arrive at Federal capital (Veja)
Five years after the Gol accident, history was almost repeated this Monday night, this time in Brasilia. The pilot of a TAM jet arriving at the federal capital, coming from São Paulo, was obliged to make an emergency maneuver in order to avoid a collision with another plane. The threat was detected by the safety system of the jet, an Airbus A319. The Brasilia control tower had not perceived that there were two aircraft on the same route.
The TAM plane was performing Flight 3712, which left Congonhas airport shortly after 7:00 PM. With a 144 person capacity, the aircraft was nearly full. About fifteen minutes before landing in Brasilia, the passengers were alarmed by a sharp turn and the deafening noise caused by sudden acceleration of the turbines. The plane approaching the A319 was a small craft, said an airline source.
The scare lasted only a few seconds. Enough to leave the passengers in panic. "I thought it was all over, that the plane would crash. I've never been through this", said actor Gustavo Valliatti, who lives in São Paulo and went to Brasilia for a filming. "It was not a motion typical of turbulence. I was even more surprised when I learned that we were on a possible collision course", reported bank worker Sergio Pimentel, a resident of the federal capital.
After the scare, the commander used the plane's sound system to explain what happened: the aircraft's maneuver, done manually, had avoided a collision. TAM officials said that during the critical moment, the pilot made the plane ascend 1,500 feet (450 meters), enough to avoid what could have been be a tragedy.
The plane landed safely in Brasilia. No passenger was injured. The Air Force said it is investigating the incident. TAM's press office did not take calls from Veja's site.
Remember - On September 29, 2006, a Gol plane going from Manaus to Brasilia crashed in Mato Grosso after colliding with a Legacy jet, built by Embraer. 154 people who were on the Brazilian airliner died.
The investigation of the case showed that the jet pilots, two Americans, had turned off the device that would allow the tracking of aircraft. Both suffered mild sentences: Joseph Lepore and Jan Paul Paladino were sentenced to four years in prison in a halfway house, the punishment being replaced by community service.
In Brazil, two flight controllers were tried because of the episode. One was acquitted. The other, Lucivanco Tiburcio de Alencar, was sentenced to three years and four months' prison, also converted into community service.