News Runway Hell
posted by July 18 at 9:20 AMon
From an AP report of the recent air crash in the “Blade Runner of the tropics,” Sao Paulo:
Now I know what to call LaGuardia: aircraft carrier two. I’ve flown out of that airport once and will never repeat the experience. 7000 feet is still too small. One moment, the plane is heating up; the next moment, it’s in the air. And what’s missing is the calming drama and rumble of a long run.
The pilot of an airliner that burst into flames after trying to land on a short, rain-slicked runway apparently tried to take off again, barely clearing rush-hour traffic on a major highway. The death toll rose Wednesday to 189 and could climb higher.
The TAM airlines Airbus-320 flight that originated in Porto Alegre in southern Brazil on Tuesday cleared the airport fence at the end of the runway and the busy highway but slammed into a gas station and a TAM building, causing an inferno.
The 6,362-foot runway at Sao Paulo’s Congonhas airport has been repeatedly criticized as dangerously short. Two planes slipped off it in rainy weather just a day earlier. Pilots call it the “aircraft carrier” — it’s so short and surrounded by heavily populated neighborhoods that they’re told to take off again and fly around if they overshoot the first 1,000 feet of runway.
By contrast, New York’s LaGuardia Airport has a 7,003-foot runway that accommodates similar planes, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.