Ten months after the fiasco that followed the Sept. 29 crash and less than a week after the latest air disaster in Sao Paulo, Brazilian authorities have siezed on what aviation experts call a red herring to shift blame away from themselves.
In the political fallout after last Tuesday's crash of a TAM A320 killed about 200 at Sao Paulo's Congonhas Airport, the investigation of the crash is shifting from the well-known unsafe conditions at the airport to a thrust reverser on the A320 that had been disconnected four days before the crash.
According to an Associated Press report, landing with only one reverser operating is "not unusual." Upon hearing of the thrust reverser issue, Marco Aurelio Garcia, an aide to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, made a gleeful obscene gesture for TV cameras that was seen as signaling relief that blame could be shifted to the airline.
Hey, the Americans-Turned-Off-the-Transponder ploy worked after Sept. 29 (after other feints at blame-shifting -- the infamous Aerial Maneuvers ploy and the Failure to Follow Flight Plan ploy -- failed to gain wide political traction).
So why not a thrust-reverser red herring? Whatever flies with the public.
For sure, the public is having a hard enough time flying itself in Brazil.