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KLM-Pan Am At Tenerife?Questions?  
User currently offlineFbm3rd From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 162 posts, RR: 0
Posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks ago) and read 7905 times:

So this happned years before i was even born. But Ihave a few questions for the experts out there?

I am talking about KLM and Pam Am on Tenerife. March 27, 1977.

So I am wondering what the offical cause of this accident was. It seems clear that KLM was not clear for take off so who is to blame (if anyone?) It is also clear that the weather and the speical situation (the bombing that caused the flights to divet) also didnt help? So if it was piolt error, which piolt? KLM or Pan Am?

Also, on a related note. If KLM hd not re-fuled that day and simply waited until they had reached the neighboring airport to get fule to go back to AMS would the KLM 747 been able to rise above the Pan Am flight?

How often do runway incursions (like this one) occur b/w aircraft? Are they reported or just those that cause some issue or problem?

13 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineUnattendedBag From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 2342 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks ago) and read 7878 times:

Quoting Fbm3rd (Thread starter):
So if it was piolt error, which piolt? KLM or Pan Am?

KLM Capt. van Zanten was the Pilot In Charge (PIC) and was to blame as he was ultimatly in charge of the aircraft's actions.

Quoting Fbm3rd (Thread starter):
Also, on a related note. If KLM hd not re-fuled that day and simply waited until they had reached the neighboring airport to get fule to go back to AMS would the KLM 747 been able to rise above the Pan Am flight?

That is a clear possibility. Fuel = weight and weight = greater takeoff distance.

Quoting Fbm3rd (Thread starter):
How often do runway incursions (like this one) occur b/w aircraft?

Not all that often. It isn't a daily occurance

Quoting Fbm3rd (Thread starter):
Are they reported or just those that cause some issue or problem?

They are all reported, even those that don't require immediate action to avoid a collision.



Slower traffic, keep right
User currently offlineHinckley From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 128 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 7846 times:

There was a very good documentary on this accident on PBS's "Nova" in the past couple of weeks.

It was very thorough in terms of the specific events of that day as well as the psychology behind the decisions that were made (like why the KLM co-pilot, knowing that his plane had not been cleared, did not challenge the pilot). It also looked into how cockpit training has been changed to avoid such incidents in the future.

It was very good watching even though they switch between shots of KLM 742s and 744s throughout the show.

[Edited 2006-11-09 04:14:54]

User currently offlinePanAm747 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 4242 posts, RR: 8
Reply 3, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 7801 times:

Quote:
If KLM hd not re-fuled that day and simply waited until they had reached the neighboring airport to get fule to go back to AMS would the KLM 747 been able to rise above the Pan Am flight?

One of the many frustrations facing the KLM crew was a new restriction on flight times. In the past, the decision to extend the day was given to the captain in charge, but Dutch law had changed, and limitations on times were to be STRICTLY adhered to. Any "overages" could result in prosecution.

The KLM crew were extraordinarily anxious to get to Grand Canary Island and then back to Amsterdam. After discussing with headquarters in Amsterdam, it was calculated that IF the crew got off the ground quickly, flew to Grand Canary, and minimized the time on the ground, they could make it back to AMS no problem.

The problem, however, would be that there would a VERY large number of diverted planes requiring re-fueling, and that would cost the KLM plane time on the ground. Captain Van Zanten decided that since he could fuel right now, he would avoid that mess on Grand Canary and save himself some time.

And that led to the many "if's"...IF the KLM 747 wasn't blocking the Pan Am 747...IF the Pan Am hadn't landed before...IF the KLM plane wasn't so heavy...IF the instructions had been clearer...IF the runway had been marked...IF Captain Van Zanten had waited one more minute...

So incredibly sad.



Pan Am:The World's Most Experienced Airline - P(oor) S(ailor's) A(irline): San Diego's Hometown Airline-Catch Our Smile!
User currently offlineNAV20 From Australia, joined Nov 2003, 9909 posts, RR: 36
Reply 4, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 7770 times:

The Cockpit Voice Recorder tape is particularly instructive in this case. Both aircraft had experienced taxiing delays and had trouble finding the taxiways in the fog.

The KLM captain does appear to have run out of patience. But arguably ATC (which I believe was military, not civilian, at the time) may have contributed by not giving KLM its route clearance (normally given while aircraft are taxiing, or even before pushback) until it was actually lined up and holding.

In essence the transcript suggests that the pilot asked for TAKEOFF clearance - ATC replied by giving him his ROUTE clearance - the pilot misunderstood, thought he was cleared to go, and said so (although in Dutch) - and ATC maybe 'put the cap on it' by first of all replying 'OK':-

"1705:44.8 KLM Uh, the KLM ... four eight zero five is now ready for take-off ... uh and we're waiting for our ATC clearance.

1705:53.4 APP KLM eight seven * zero five uh you are cleared to the Papa Beacon climb to and maintain flight level nine zero right turn after take-off proceed with heading zero four zero until intercepting the three two five radial from Las Palmas VOR. (1706:08.2)

1706:09.6 KLM Ah roger, sir, we're cleared to the Papa Beacon flight level nine zero, right turn out zero four zero until intercepting the three two five and we're now (at take-off). (1706:17.9)

1706:13 KLM-1 We gaan. (We're going)

1706:18.19 APP OK.

1706:19.3 RDO No .. eh.

1706:20.08 APP Stand by for take-off, I will call you.

1706:20.3 RDO And we're still taxiing down the runway, the clipper one seven three six."

(RDO and APP communications caused a shrill noise in KLM cockpit - messages not heard by KLM crew.)


http://www.airdisaster.com/cvr/tenetr.shtml

[Edited 2006-11-09 05:12:17]


"Once you have flown, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards.." - Leonardo da Vinci
User currently offlineTrijetsRMissed From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 2400 posts, RR: 7
Reply 5, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 7705 times:

Another element that attributed to Van Zandts poor decisions was the fact that he was mainly a training pilot in the KLM flight simulators. His simulator hours outnumbered his flying hours in the 747 by 5:1. As a result, it is believed that a pilot may subconsciously take greater risks, (especially when they are in a rush) because they are used to a simulator environment and lose focus of real life. This time Van Zandt didn't have the reset button to save him from one of the worst aviation related decisions known to man.

Another point that hasn't been said yet is the that the Pan Am jet overran its intended turn off point. However, the controls assigned a taxiway that had an angle which was virtually impossible for the Pan Am jet to maneuver onto.

In highsight, the controllers could have avoided this whole mess by instructing the planes to take off from the end of the runway they were originally at.



There's nothing quite like a trijet.
User currently offlineTrintocan From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2000, 3258 posts, RR: 4
Reply 6, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 7361 times:

Tenerife - the world's greatest airline accident of all time. It was very sad but resulted from a culmination of many factors. To start with, Las Palmas was closed after a bomb exploded in the terminal, causing several injuries. A separatist group, calling for Canarian independence, declared that another bomb was hidden in the building and so the airport was closed while the terminal was searched. The planes due to arrive there were diverted to Tenerife (now called TFN or Tenerife Norte) - 9 were diverted.

Tenerife Norte, also known as Los Rodeos airport, lies in the shadow of Mt. Teide (Spain's highest mountain) and is prone to fog, often at short notice. At the time the planes were diverted, though, there was no fog. The Pan Am plane was flying in from LAX via JFK and the crew actually asked the Las Palmas authorities to circle until it reopened, as the plane had enough fuel to do so. It was denied permission to do so though and so it followed the KL plane into Los Rodeos and parked behind it.

Once Las Palmas reopened several of the smaller planes which were diverted to Tenerife were able to taxi out and depart for their destinations but, as mentioned above, the KL captain, Van Zanten, decided to refuel his plane as that would reduce turn-around time at LPM and ensure he met the crew's time limits. This, however, delayed the PA plane as it could not taxi around the KL Jumbo. In the meantime the airport was actually struggling to cope - it did not have such high levels of traffic and the 3 ATC on duty found it hard going. In the meantime the fog descended on the airport.

Finally, the KL was cleared to taxi along the length of the runway and turn at the end in preparation for take off. The PA plane was instructed to taxi behind the KL plane and turn off at taxiway 3. Why the PA never turned off remains unclear - the slipway may have been missed in the fog or else the pilots thought that the angle it was set at made it impossible to manoeuvre a 747 onto it (though subsequent tests confirmed that such a movement was possible with a 747). All the same, the PA continued on the runway and ended up facing the KL jet, which was lined up for take-off and received confused indications as to whether it was clear for take-off. In between the 2 747s was thick fog so neither plane could see the other - nor could the controllers see either.

The KL 747 started up and headed down the runway under the basis that it was cleared for departure... until its crew saw the lights of the PA jet straight in front of it! The KL pilots tried to get airborne with a steep rotation, causing an extensive tail-scrape, while the PA crew turned their plane to the left off the runway - perhaps the one manoeuvre which enabled anybody to survive the accident. The KL plane did get airborne but hit the PA jet soon after, first tearing off the PA's upper deck and then descending to tear apart the fuselage of the PA plane before plunging onto the runway and exploding. The PA plane started burning but its port wing did not, enabling people to escape. 70 people survived from the PA Jumbo but 9 died in hospital. The final death toll was 583, including all 248 on board the KL plane.

The ATC did hear the explosions after the accident but thought that bombs may have exploded; however when there was no reply from either Jumbo it became clear that the accident occurred. The investigation ultimately placed blame on the KL captain but the truth is that many factors were at play. The refuelling of the KL may sealed the fate in 3 ways - indeed the KL plane was heavier and unable to clear the PA jet but the fuel also ultimately fuelled the raging inferno which enveloped both planes. A less severe fire may have seen more survivors from both planes. Also, the delay caused by refuelling may have allowed the fog at the field to become denser and thus worsen visibility.

The biggest outcome from this tragedy was the construction of TFS, Tenerife Sur or La Reina Sofia Airport shortly afterwards. TFS is on the sunnier southern side of the island and has generally better weather and no fog. It is also nearer to the newer tourist resorts of Playa de las Americas and Costa Adeje. Most charter flights arrive there nowadays but domestic Spanish flights stuck at TFN, largely because of its proximity to the capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Only a few domestic flights currently go from TFS but charters have started returning to TFN in greater numbers recently.

TrinToCan.



Hop to it, fly for life!
User currently offlineJwenting From Netherlands, joined Apr 2001, 10213 posts, RR: 18
Reply 7, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 7147 times:

There we go again...
And as every time the Americans refuse to admit that there was more than one person to blame, that the entire thing was caused by everyone making mistakes at the same time which, had any one of them not been made, would have led to no accident at all.

KLM took off without clearance, though the transmissions could have been incorrectly interpreted as being clearance to take off.
PanAm ignored instructions to clear the runway at their assigned turnoff, or they'd have been long gone from the active by the time KLM started its roll.
They also didn't inform ATC that they'd not taken their assigned turnoff, instead just creeping alond in search of the next one.
ATC was not paying attention, they were too interested in the football match on the radio they were listening to.
ATC were not well trained in handling large volumes of traffic, especially non-Spanish speaking traffic.
Neither KLM nor PanAm was supposed to have been there at all, the airport was crowded due to their destination being closed due to a terrorist incident (bomb threat), neither crew were familiar with the airport or its procedures.
The weather was poor, dense fog, so noone could see each other.
Radio procedures were less well defined as they are today, causing crucial messages to be misinterpreted by all sides. In fact a direct result of the accident investigation was the establishment of better international radio procedures.

But the FAA report mentioned none of that, concentrating solely on laying the blame on the KLM captain who was conveniently dead and couldn't defend himself.
The Spanish and Dutch reports were more levelheaded.



I wish I were flying
User currently offlineBlast From Sweden, joined Nov 2005, 121 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 7130 times:

Quoting NAV20 (Reply 4):
(RDO and APP communications caused a shrill noise in KLM cockpit - messages not heard by KLM crew.)



Quoting Jwenting (Reply 7):
Radio procedures were less well defined as they are today, causing crucial messages to be misinterpreted by all

In fact, the shrill noise were two radio messages at the same time. If I remember correctly, it was one by ATC, the second by PanAm. Had KL heard one of them, or both, the crash would not have happened as Cpt. van Zanten would have understood that PanAm was still on the runway straight ahead of his plane.
But of course, this was one of many factors contributing to this bizarre and horrific crash. Ultimately Cpt. v. Zanten should have waited for clearance.


User currently offlineSpacecadet From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 3674 posts, RR: 12
Reply 9, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 7094 times:

Quoting Jwenting (Reply 7):
But the FAA report mentioned none of that, concentrating solely on laying the blame on the KLM captain who was conveniently dead and couldn't defend himself.

Because ultimately, he was the one responsible. You do not take off without clearance. End. Of. Story.

Was the Pan Am plane being on the runway the direct cause of this accident? No. They didn't run into the KLM 747. The KLM 747 ran into the Pan Am.

Were the controllers at the controls of the KLM 747 or the Pan Am 747? No. The pilots were.

Did a terrorist bomb cause the KLM 747 to run into the Pan Am 747? No. The KLM 747 was under full control of the pilot's at the time.

Ultimately, the blame lies with the pilot, who did not receive takeoff clearance. Why is this so difficult for you to understand?

Let's say I'm at a stoplight in the middle of an intersection waiting to turn left. (If your country drives on the left, just assume I'm turning right instead.) Because of the traffic, or because of the weather, or whatever (the reason really doesn't matter), I can't complete my turn until my light is red. Now let's say the light in the other direction has a delay of 5 seconds before it turns green, to give cars like mine a chance to clear the intersection. Now let's say the lead car doesn't wait that five seconds, instead charging forward while the light is still red and plowing into my car. Who is at fault?

Quoting Jwenting (Reply 7):
The Spanish and Dutch reports were more levelheaded.

The Spanish and Dutch reports were much more rationalizing, more like. Their thinking in the above example would have been that if my car wasn't still in the intersection, the accident wouldn't have occured - therefore, I share the blame. What sense does that make? The crash in my above example occurred because some idiot stepped on the gas while his light was still red and plowed into me. That's the direct cause of the accident, and that's why we have stoplights to begin with. There is no sharing of blame.

There can be contributing factors, and there were in the Tenerife accident, most notably a heterodyne that caused one or more radio transmissions to get cut off, and a lack of standardized terminology that led to some confusion on the part of the KLM crew. But the bottom line is they took off without clearance. They hit the gas while the light was still red.



I'm tired of being a wanna-be league bowler. I wanna be a league bowler!
User currently offlineNorthStarDC4M From Canada, joined Apr 2000, 3077 posts, RR: 36
Reply 10, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 7088 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
CHAT OPERATOR

Sorry Jwenting, but i have to correct this:

Quoting Jwenting (Reply 7):
There we go again...
And as every time the Americans refuse to admit that there was more than one person to blame, that the entire thing was caused by everyone making mistakes at the same time which, had any one of them not been made, would have led to no accident at all.

KLM took off without clearance, though the transmissions could have been incorrectly interpreted as being clearance to take off.

The only report that supported this was the dutch one, the spanish report stated that the KLM captain violated 4 of his own company's regulations. I don't care who you are, takeoff clearance is a very clear and easy to understand instruction. Ive listened to the Tenerife controller tape of that day, the 4 flights that left before the accident all had very clearly stated takeoff clearances. Why vanZanten proceeded without this is one of the many mysteries

Quoting Jwenting (Reply 7):

PanAm ignored instructions to clear the runway at their assigned turnoff, or they'd have been long gone from the active by the time KLM started its roll.
They also didn't inform ATC that they'd not taken their assigned turnoff, instead just creeping alond in search of the next one.

Debatable, ATC never said take Taxiway 3(taxiway C), they said take the 3rd turnoff, taxiway D (both arcraft started on Taxiway A), which is where PanAm was heading. Taxiway C would of been very difficult for the 747 to use as it would of required an 120* turn to the left, 4 would of required a 50* turn.
ATC never said C or D, only 3rd.

Quoting Jwenting (Reply 7):

ATC was not paying attention, they were too interested in the football match on the radio they were listening to.

This specifically was denied by all those in the tower at the time of the incident in the Spanish report.

Quoting Jwenting (Reply 7):

ATC were not well trained in handling large volumes of traffic, especially non-Spanish speaking traffic.

Listen to the tapes, yes they were stressed, but they were not difficult to understand in English. Honestly besides the 1st departure after LPA reopened who was cleared in spanish, everything is understandable right up to "we are takin off".

Quoting Jwenting (Reply 7):

Neither KLM nor PanAm was supposed to have been there at all, the airport was crowded due to their destination being closed due to a terrorist incident (bomb threat), neither crew were familiar with the airport or its procedures.
The weather was poor, dense fog, so noone could see each other.
Radio procedures were less well defined as they are today, causing crucial messages to be misinterpreted by all sides. In fact a direct result of the accident investigation was the establishment of better international radio procedures.

No one COULD see each other, KLM proceedures did not allow for takeoff to occur at the visibilty levels they were in. Pan Am followed their own regulations and slowed taxi speed down to minimums. Also KLM exceeded the taxi speed for TFN to reach the end of the runway early...
Yes Radio proceedures WERE less defined, however they were practically ignored by vanZanten during his entire flight, starting with departure from AMS that morning.

Quoting Jwenting (Reply 7):



But the FAA report mentioned none of that, concentrating solely on laying the blame on the KLM captain who was conveniently dead and couldn't defend himself.
The Spanish and Dutch reports were more levelheaded.

Give me a break. The Dutch report was clearly trying to shift blame off of the KLM crew to the Clipper crew and ATC, the American report accused KLM of being the only cause. The Spanish diverted blame back to both flight crews... Not one of the reports is "levelheaded"...

Now, there are so many places this accident could of been avoided:

PanAm 1736 wanted to circle, denied
PanAm 1736 wanted to divert to Lisbon, denied
PanAm 1736 wanted to takeoff while KLM was refueling, not enough room due to poor parking of both aircraft.
If PanAm 1736 had landed 1st they would of left 1st...
If ATC had used the Clipper 1736 callsign through-out instead of user Papa-Alpha 1736 during the "still on runway" exchange...
Airport proceedures should of had PanAm hold at its parking space to let KLM depart, ignored by ATC, who told both to taxi.
If Taxi instructions has been clearer
If the fog hadnt rolled in...
The bomb shouldn't of been placed at LasPalmas...
The Terrorists should of been caught sooner... etc etc etc etc...

Hashing this over and over is pointless... The politics involved in the reports means none of them are worth believing in full.



Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
User currently offlineTheweave33 From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 41 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 7032 times:

There was a episode on "Seconds from Disaster" from the National Geographic Channel that focused on the miscommunication that produced the shrill noise in the KLM cockpit. According to the episode, this was the final event (other then the incorrect actions taken by the KLM pilot) that could have prevented the collision.

User currently offlineOsiris30 From Barbados, joined Sep 2006, 3192 posts, RR: 25
Reply 12, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 7019 times:

Quoting Jwenting (Reply 7):
There we go again...
And as every time the Americans refuse to admit that there was more than one person to blame,

I can only answer that with: Why is it everytime something 'bad' is said about Europe or a European you guys round around like children complaining that 'so and so' is picking on me? Is the European ego so fragile that you can never accept criticism, even if the face of overwhelming evidence?

Every accident in the history of the world has contributing factors. No one is disputing those. At the end of the day it was the KLM crew that advanced the throttles and plowed through the PA 747. Either way it's a shame. Hell even the sinking of the Titanic had them and it happened at a leisurely 20-30kts.



I don't care what you think of my opinion. It's my opinion, so have a nice day :)
User currently offlineBCAL From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2004, 3384 posts, RR: 15
Reply 13, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 6995 times:

The posts above summarise what happened that fateful day but one thing that stands out is that many people are quick to attribute all blame to the KLM Captain. I have even seen somewhere a two-page spread with pictures of the KLM Captain and a heading "The Murderer of Tenerife" or something similar. Granted that he made the wrong decision but in isolation this was not the cause - it was a combination of factors that led to the catastrophe.
  • Had the terrorists not planted a bomb, Las Palmas would not have been closed and this would not have resulted in any aircraft being diverted.
  • Had the KLM not refuelled at TFN, the PanAm 747 would have left before them.
  • Had the KLM co-pilot questioned his captain's decision, maybe they would not have started their take off roll. Obviously CRM came into play here.
  • Had the PanAm 747 not missed the correct turn, they would have been clear off the KLM plane.
  • Had the fog not descended, the KLM flight crew might have seen the PanAm 747 still taxiing on the runway.
  • If proper procedures in communications had been followed, both pilots would know exactly where the other aircraft was, so again the KLM 747 might not have commenced its take off.
  • Had two radio messages not been relayed at the same time, again the PanAm crew might have been aware of the location of the KLM 747.
  • Had the shrill not interrupted radio communications, again both aircraft would know where the other was
  • Had the ATC been paying full attention, again the tragedy might have been avoided.
  • Had the PanAm crew been familiar with TFN, they would not have missed their correct turn off and therefore would have been out of the path of the KLM plane.
There are other small contributory factors but the above are just some examples.

Quoting Trintocan (Reply 6):
The biggest outcome from this tragedy was the construction of TFS, Tenerife Sur or La Reina Sofia Airport shortly afterwards

The KLM/PanAm was not the only major accident at TFN. A Spantax Coronado and a Dan-Air 727 both collided with the mountains on approaches to TFN whilst the airport was shrouded in fog, and all three accidents were instrumental in the new airport at TFS being built. Added to this modern navigation and safety aids including ground radar would have prevented a similar tragedy occurring.



MOL on SRB's latest attack at BA: "It's like a little Chihuahua barking at a dying Labrador. Nobody cares."
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