Brazil replaces the head of its airport authority

Sergio Mauricio Brito Gaudenzi, the president of Brazil's Space Agency, will replace Jose Carlos Pereira as head of the airport authority, Infraero, Defense Minister Nelson Jobim said in the Amazon city of Coari on 4 August 2007. Gaudenzi will take over on Monday.

This is the second top-echelon replacement in Brazil's troubled aviation sector. Jobim himself was appointed to replace Waldir Pires as defense minister on 25 July, eight days after a TAM jetliner sped off the runway of Sao Paulo's busy Congonhas airport and exploded, killing all 187 people aboard and 12 people on the ground.

Infraero has come under attack for paying more attention to the renovation of passenger terminals and the construction of parking areas than to safety measures like grooving - which helps water run off and provides better traction in rain - the installation of long safety strips at the end of the runways, and better instrument landing systems.

The airport authority was strongly criticised for reopening the airport's relatively short runway before it was grooved.

Brazilian media has reported that an internal Airbus statement that said the plane's data and voice recorders have not shown any functional flaws, meaning that the plane was operating normally.

The statement apparently also indicates that the throttle of the right engine was set to accelerate instead of neutral when the plane landed. Airbus has refused to confirm or deny the reports. The air force has cautioned that black box data analysis is not conclusive, and that it is too early to say if the incorrect throttle was owing to the pilot's error or to a flaw in the aircraft's computers.