TAM airlines, taking extra precautions after Brazil's deadliest air disaster, has barred its planes from landing at the airport where the crash occurred without their thrust reversers activated.
The airline's head of security, Marco Aurelio Castro, on Tuesday told a congressional panel investigating the crash that TAM Linhas Aereas SA planes will not land at the Congonhas airport in Sao Paulo without the thrust reversers activated.
The measure, contrary to the airline's policy before the July 17 crash that killed 199 people, was introduced shortly after the crash and will remain valid until "more detailed information" regarding the causes of the accident is available, TAM said in a statement.
The airline said, however, landings with a thruster deactivated will be allowed in certain cases after consultation with the airplane's maker and Brazil's Aviation Authority.
A thrust reverser was inoperative on the TAM Airbus A320 that crashed into a cargo building after speeding off a Congonhas runway, killing all 187 people aboard the plane and 12 more on the ground.
The thrust reversers are used by jets to slow down just after touching down.
Castro reiterated, however, that TAM does not believe the crash was caused by the deactivated thruster.
TAM has said it had allowed planes to fly without a thrust reverser based on government-approved safety measures. It also said it followed Airbus maintenance rules that said the plane was safe to fly.
Castro said TAM also does not allow its planes to land without both thrust reversers activated at Rio de Janeiro's Santos Dumont airport, where the runway also is short.
Speculation on the cause of last month's accident has focused on the short, slick runway and the possibility the jet's throttles were set in the wrong position.
Castro said that TAM has also ordered a software that would warn pilots if the throttles are set incorrectly during landings. He added, however, that it would be "imprudent" to say a pilot error in setting the throttles caused the TAM plane to crash.
Alex Frischman, responsible for TAM's A320s, later told the congressional panel that human error could not be ruled out because "the pilots had very little time to make a decision after the plane touched down and the problem occurred."