TAM airlines, of Brazil, recently found itself on the wrong side of a psychic prediction. To make sure it didn’t come to pass, the airline changed the flight number.
Jucelino Nobrega da Luz, a self-described psychic, claims that he has predicted the deaths of Princess Diana and Ayrton Senna, the Brazilian race car driver. He told authorities that flight JJ3720 flying between Sao Paulo and Brasilia on Wednesday, would crash from engine failure on Sao Paulo’s main street, Paulista Avenue. TAM airlines changed the flight number to JJ4732 and the flight went off without a hitch.
Neither the airline nor the best psychic could explain why changing the flight number would save a flight that had the same plane, crew, passengers and flight plan, but da Luz said on his website, “Airplane which do not land off cannot fall down.” The psychic has not explained how both the original, and modified, flight plan avoided taking the plane over Paulista Avenue.
Da Luz has not stated why he believed the flight was in danger and TAM airlines has not revealed the “indispensable information” they received that caused the flight number change. If it was because of the psychic’s warning, it would not be the first time that an airline has changed flight information because of superstition or
Although it is easy to dismiss the airline’s behavior as superstitious nonsense, the airline has to be aware of the perception of safety as much as they are aware of real safety issues. If re-numbering the flight will calm superstitious passengers, then it is worth the slight effort. Appearances can be as important as safety procedures.
Airline superstitions and psychic claims are more common than many believe. According to the Daily Mail, airlines don’t schedule flights with the number 13 in them. 911 and 666 are avoided, as well.
Da Luz has claimed that he predicted the August death of presidential candidate Eduardo Campos in a plane crash, but has been wrong in predicting the results of Brazil’s 2006 presidential election and claiming that a vaccine for AIDS would be discovered in 2008.
TAM Airlines is Brazil’s largest carrier. Operating out of hubs in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia it has a total of 171 aircraft and flies both domestically and internationally. In terms of passengers per kilometer flown, TAM carries 41 percent of domestic and 90 percent of international market shares in the Brazilian market.
The last major accident occurred in 2007 when flight 3054, an Airbus A320, overran the runway during a landing at Sao Paulo. The planed skipped over a major thoroughfare and struck a TAM Express warehouse. All 186 passengers and crew were killed, additionally 13 people on the ground died, as well. It was the deadliest air disaster in Brazil.
According to his website, da Luz has predicted the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, the death of Michael Jackson and the Asian tsunami in December 2006.