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Terror in Tenerife. Flight KLM 4805 and PAA 1736. A tragedy impossible. Burnt out

Terror in Tenerife: Flights KLM 4805 and PAA 1736. A tragedy impossible

Miguel Duque Pérez-Camacho *


The Sunday March 27, 1977, two Boeing 747s collided at Los Rodeos airport, Tenerife North at present north of the island of Tenerife, killing 583 people. Holds the sad record of being the most crash fatalities.

The KLM aircraft were wrecked 4805, charter of the Dutch airline KLM, flying from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, heading for Gran Canaria and the PAA flight 1736, flying charter of Royal Cruise Lines, flying from the International Airport, John F. New York Kennedy, who also was heading to the airport of Gran Canaria (Gando).

While the plane was headed Gran Canaria, a bomb planted by the Movement for Self-Determination and Independence the Canary Islands (MPAIAC), exploded in the airport passenger terminal. Later there was a second bomb threat and the airport was closed. Following the closure of the airport, two flights were diverted to Los Rodeos in the neighboring island of Tenerife along with many other flights also diverted. At that time, Los Rodeos was too small to easily support such a congestion, in addition to having at the time of only two air traffic controllers.

When Gran Canaria airport was reopened, the staff of Pan Am flight aircraft (PAA 1736) proceeded to ask permission to take off towards its destination, Gran Canaria, but was forced to wait because the flight of KLM (KLM 4805) blocked the exit to the runway.

Both flights had been instructed to move around the runway instead of the running due to excessive traffic congestion caused by the diversion of flights from the airport of Gran Canaria

The KLM 4805 and requested permission to refuel their tanks filled with 55,000 liters of fuel, after which he was instructed to once there, perform a 180 degrees and wait for confirmation of clearing the route. 1736 PAA later received instructions tions to scroll through the runway, leave to reach the third exit on your left and to confirm their departure after completion of the maneuver. But in 1736 PAA did not see the third exit (this was presumably due to heavy fog) and continued into the fourth. Despite not having received permission to take off and due to a misunderstanding of the Dutch pilot and copilot from the KLM sent the message by radio that they were about to take off. By not waiting for takeoff, and yet they were not authorized, the control tower interpreted the message as the plane was in takeoff position and responded by saying they were kept waiting for takeoff.

control tower asked the PAA 1736 to inform him as soon as there Clear the runway. In the KLM cabin 4805, and on takeoff, one confirmed receipt of these messages and PAA 1736 announced that it was still rolling down the track, and report back to clear it. Just after that, the flight engineer and copilot Dutch showed doubt that the landing was really clear, what the Captain Jacob Van Zanten, responded with an emphatic "yes", perhaps influenced by his great prestige, making difficult for a skilled pilot as he made a mistake of this magnitude, as well as the copilot and flight engineer made no further objection. The impact occurred about eight seconds later, at 17 hours 06 minutes 50 seconds GMT, after which the air traffic controllers could not get back in touch with any of the two planes.

Taxiway at Los Rodeos.

Due to the heavy fog, the KLM jet pilots could not see the Pam Am plane in front. KLM flight 4805 was visible from PAA 1736 approximately 8 seconds and a half before the collision, but despite having tried to accelerate out of the track, the clash was inevitable.

The KLM was completely in the air when the impact occurred, about 250 kilometers per hour. The front hit the top of another Boeing, ripping the roof of the cabin and upper deck passengers while the two other struck the Pan Am plane, killing most of the rear passengers instantly.

continued flying after the collision, hitting the ground about 150 meters from the crash site, and sliding down the track about 300 meters. There was a violent fire immediately and although the impact to the Pan Am and soil were extremely violent, all 248 people aboard died in the fire KLM and 321 of the 380 people aboard the Pan Am including 9 people who died later from his injuries.

weather conditions also made it possible for the accident was seen from the control tower immediately, where there was only one explosion followed another, without being clear their situation or causes. Moments later

the collision, an aircraft located on the apron tower alerted the fire he had seen. The tower sounded the fire alarm, and even without knowing the status of the firefighters reported fire. They went to the area as quickly as possible, which due to heavy fog was still too slow, even without seeing the fire, until they could see the light of the flames and feel the strong radiation of heat. The fog cleared a bit, they could see for the first time that a plane had completely engulfed in flames. After extinguishing the fire has started, the fog continued to clear and could see another light, they thought would be part of the burning plane that had fallen. Split the trucks and close to what they thought was a second outbreak of the fire, they discovered a second plane in flames. Concentrated their efforts in this second plane and that the former was completely unrecoverable.

As a result, despite the powerful flames on the second plane, could save the left side from which later were taken between fifteen and twenty thousand kilos of fuel.

Meanwhile, the control tower, still covered in a dense fog, still could not find the exact location of the fire and if it was one or two aircraft involved in the accident.

According to survivors of Pan Am flight, including flight captain Victor Grubbs, the impact was not so terribly violent, which made them believe that there had been an explosion. A few at the front door and jumped into the openings on the left side as he produced several explosions. The evacuation, however, was quickly wounded were taken and offered numerous donations of blood. Firetrucks

neighboring cities of La Laguna and Santa Cruz had to be employed and the fire was not completely extinguished until 0330 on 28 March.

A number of factors likely contributed to the accident include, among others, fatigue after long hours of waiting and the growing tension of the situation. The KLM captain, due to the rigidity of the Dutch rules on limitations of length of service, had only three hours to take off from the airport of Gran Canaria back to Amsterdam airport or have to suspend the flight, with the consequent chain delays related thereto. In addition, airport weather conditions were worsening rapidly, which could cause the flight was further delayed.

Another factor was the transmission tower to wait for indicating to KLM and Pan Am was still reporting that rolling down the runway, which were not received with all the clarity that would have been desirable. The technical language used in communication between the three parties also was proper. For example, the Dutch co-pilot did not use appropriate language to indicate they were about to take off and the flight controller OK added a call just before the KLM flight to wait for authorization for takeoff. The Pan Am

not left the track at the third intersection, as he had indicated. The plane should have been, in fact, talking to the tower, but this could not have been a direct cause of the accident, because he never reported that the runway was clear and informed twice that she was rolling. Excessive traffic congestion also affected, forcing the tower to take action, though regulations, in some cases it can be taken as potentially dangerous as having aircraft taxiing down the runway.

should also be borne in mind that the flight from Tenerife to Gran Canaria is only 25 minutes long so that the refueling 55500 liters of fuel, which caused the fire was later produced even greater, suggests that the captain of the KLM flight 4805 proposed the save further delay in Gran Canaria by air traffic problems. Being a charter flight should take off from Gran Canaria Airport to Amsterdam and this amount would have enough fuel.

The transcript of conversations between the Pan American Boeing, La Torre de Los Rodeos Airport and KLM Boeing you can see, the tragedy was hatched in 6 minutes and 49 seconds of haste, constraints, forward and misunderstandings

17,00:43,5 : Ground Control to

PAA Clipper one seven three six is \u200b\u200bcleared to taxi to the runway following the seven four seven from KLM

17,00:51,1 : Second

PAA Clipper one seven three

17,01:19,5 : Ground Control

Clipper one seven three six, leave the door (...) three a (...) to (her, me) left.

17,01:28,6 : PAA Second

Please repeat

17,01:31,6 : Ground Control

Leave the track for the third (your) left.

17,01:37,7 : Second
OK, roll down the runway and (...) to leave the runway at the first intersection on the left.

17,01:45,6 : Ground Control

Negative. The third, third and switch to one one nine point seven.

17,01:51,1 : PAA Second

OK, the first and switching to a nineteen seven

17,01:54,2 : Commander of PAA (Cockpit Voice Recorder)

let us wait here.

17,01:57,0 : PAA Second

Tenerife, this is Clipper one seven three six.

17,02:01,8 : Approach Control

Clipper one seven three six, Tenerife here.

17,02:03,6 : Second

PAA (...) We have been instructed to contact you and also the track rodemos correct?

17,02:08,4 :

Affirmative Approach. Roll down the runway and (...) take the third, third to your left, third.

17,02:16,4 : PAA

Second Third on the left, OK.

(There was some confusion in the cockpit of Pan Am The commander still believed that the driver had said "first." The second says that it asked again. You can not do so immediately, since the control approach is following the departure of flight 282, Sunjet).

17,02:49,8 : Approach

KLM four eight zero how many intersections has already passed?.

17,02:55,6 : Second
I think Charlie just spent four.

17,02:59,9 : Approach Received

... At the end of the runway turn one eighty and report for the approval of the CTA.

(PAA crew discusses the intersection to take and not pay much attention to the road between KLM and control approach).

17,03:14,2 : Second

KLM (...) are central runway lights available for the four eight zero five?

17,03:19,8 : Approach

hope. I think not, sir: I think not. Wait. Check it.

17,03:22,9 : Second

17,03:25,0 : Approach

We are looking (...) We'll check.

17,03:29,3 : PAA Second

I confirm that it is expected that the Clipper one seven three six to turn left at the third intersection.

17,03:36,4 : Approach

The third, sir. One, two, three, third, third.

17,03:39,2 : Second

Thank PAA.

17,03:47,6 :

approach (...) er seven one three six report when leaving the track.

17,03:55,0 : Second

PAA Clipper one seven three six.

17,04:58,2 :

approach (...) ... M eight seven zero five and clipper one seven three six ... for information, the lights are out of service stations.

17,05:05,8 : Second

17,05:07,7 : Second

PAA Clipper one seven three six.

17,05:44,8 : Second

KLM (...) the KLM four eight zero five is ready to take off and ... (...) await the approval of the CTA.

17,05:53,4 : Approach

KLM eight seven zero five (...) is authorized to mark Pope. Climb and maintain flight level nine zero ... turn right after takeoff. Proceed with heading zero four zero until intercepting the three two five radial from Las VOR Palmas.

17,06:09,6 : Second

KLM (...) received. We are entitled to (...) the mark Pope. Flight level nine zero. Turn right to zero four zero until intercepting the three two five and we (...) (take off) (in DT).

17,06:18,5 : Approach ... K

17,06:19,3 : Commander of PAA

No (...) ...

17,06:20,3 : Second
PAA Clipper one seven three six is \u200b\u200bstill rolling down the runway.

17,06:25,6 : Approach Received

, Papa Alpha one seven three six report when leaving the track.

17,06:29,6 : PAA Second

OK, I will report when no longer.

17,06:32,1 : Approach


What now follows is a transcript of cockpit voice recorder of the PAA during the eighteen seconds before the collision.

17,06:32,1 : Commander

Apart from the (...) Get out of here ... (...) from here.

17,06:34,9 : Second

Yes, it seems that now has come the rush.

17,06:36,2 : Mechanical

Yes, after having us for an hour and a half this (...)

17,06:38,4 : Second

Yes, this (...)

17,06:39,8 : Mechanical

Now hurry.

17,06:40,6 : Commander

There is ... look at that (...) ... that (...) is upon us.

17,06:45,9 : Second

Out! Turn away! Turn away!

17,06:48,7 : Sound of takeoff warning horn. Sound of approaching engines.

17,06:50,1 : Noise impact.

Following is the transcript of the cockpit voice recorder from
KLM 17,06:32,43 to the collision.

17,06:32,4 : Voice unidentifiable

Still not out?

17,06:34,1 : Commander


17,06:34,7 unidentifiable

Voice Has not gone out that Pan American?

17,06:35,7 : Commander


17,06:43,5 : Second

V1 17,06:47,4 : Commander

Ah! (...)

17,06:49,3 : Noise impact.


legend circulating in Tenerife during World War II, Hitler urge the English regime of Franco in the construction of an airport in Tenerife to cover his troops North Africa. German technical design studies began at the airport, later presenting the project to the English authorities. They decided to postpone the construction, but kept all the studies done by Germans, who in those days were regarded as true experts in the design and construction of airports.

Years later, and after the war, the English authorities decided it was time to build the airport in Tenerife, so they decided to use the valuable documentation provided by the Germans. In it, presented a map which clearly had a large red cross marked. The English "assumed" that this was the perfect location for the airport, beginning with its construction based on the German maps. Little did they know, is that the large red cross indicates the location never had to build an airport.


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