Downloading information from the TAM Airbus A320 flight recorders began successfully on 20 July, three days after the aircraft fatally overran the runway end at São Paulo's downtown Congonhas airport, Airbus reveals in an accident information telex to operators.
The manufacturer reports that it has been cleared by the Brazilian authorities to release advice about essential considerations for landing an A320 with one thrust reverser intentionally rendered inoperative because of a fault.
The main advice, addressed to A320 pilots, reads: "During the flare at thrust reduction, select all thrust levers to IDLE."
This action is so fundamental to landing any aeroplane, it has led the professional pilot community to discuss whether the pilot handling the aircraft that night might have failed to retard the right power lever to idle to avoid deploying the deactivated thrust reverser on that engine. Video recording of the landing, in which surface spray is seen being kicked up under the left wing, has been interpreted by pilots who have watched it as an indication that the crew were using the left thrust reverser only, which is permitted.
The standard procedure for using thrust reverse when one of the reversers has been disabled, according to the A320 flightcrew operating manual, is to operate both the reverser levers.
The other information Airbus has provided gives the pilots the flightcrew operating manual references denoting where to find the considerations for operating A300, A310, A320, A330 and A340 series aircraft with a thrust reverser intentionally rendered inoperable.
TAM's own A320 manual says the only airport at which both thrust reversers must be fully operating is Rio de Janeiro's downtown Santos Dumont airport, which has a shorter runway than Congonhas.
Airbus explains: "The two accident recorders [cockpit voice recorder and digital flight data recorder have been retrieved and are providing good quality data.
The DFDR decoding started on 20 July, the CVR decoding started on 23 July, both in US National Transportation Safety Board facilities under the responsibility of the Brazilian investigation authorities with the participation of the other involved investigation authorities and parties.
It is confirmed that the aircraft was dispatched with the reverser of Engine 2 inhibited according to MEL [minimum equipment list]."
The advice continues: "Based from the preliminary analysis of the DFDR, and in agreement with the Brazilian investigation authorities, Airbus reminds all operators to strictly comply with the following procedures: During the flare at thrust reduction select ALL thrust levers to IDLE."