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irelayer
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40th anniversary of Tenerife Airport Disaster

Sun Mar 26, 2017 8:03 pm

This sad sad event continues to fascinate me...apparently tomorrow (March 27th) is the 40th anniversary. I came across this "Ask the Pilot" article from 10 years ago, and it gave me some fascinating insights (the PA FO, Bob Bragg, recounts some frightening details from the moments after the crash).

http://www.salon.com/2007/04/06/askthepilot227/

-IR
 
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RayChuang
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Re: 40th anniversary of Tenerife Airport Disaster

Sun Mar 26, 2017 8:11 pm

That horrible tragedy forced two changes: 1) airports started to install ground radar to better track planes on the ground and 2) it forced major changes in cockpit communication procedures between pilot and co-pilot.
 
thegoldenargosy
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Re: 40th anniversary of Tenerife Airport Disaster

Sun Mar 26, 2017 8:49 pm

One of the surviving Pan Am FA's is still flying for Delta out of ATL.
 
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Karlos
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40 years since Tenerife

Sun Mar 26, 2017 11:28 pm

Today marks the fortieth anniversary of the Tenerife disaster.

Thoughts with all the families who lost loved ones, it is never easy.
 
N747PE
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Mon Mar 27, 2017 6:02 am

Can't believe it has been so long. Many improvements have come from the disaster but I feel that Cockpit Resource Management became an important topic in the aftermath
 
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CARST
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Mon Mar 27, 2017 6:42 am

The saddest part is that radio technology in aviation still hasn't improved despite this being the major flaw that led to this disaster. If I read current accident reports, you still read about radio messages that haven't been received on one side, because of interference of multiple users speaking of the frequency. The technology is there, but no one is willing to invest in it...

So for me the sad result is that Tenerife could happen again on an airport without ground radar, heavy fog and a lazy crew. TCAS is not working on the ground, so no help either form the technological advancements in this area.
 
ei146
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:37 am

Hi CARST, while I share your thoughts about the flaws in the radio system and the need to replace it I do not see it as the MAJOR flaw leading to the disaster.
As with all of the accidents there was a number of contributing factors. Each of them could have resulted in a different outcome. Remember: The KLM 747 was in the take off roll already, without clearance from tower and with a second plane on the runway. This take off roll should not have happened, regardless what other circumstances there were.
With a better radio system KLM crew might have understood that things went wrong and might have been able to stop in time. But it did not cause the accident.
 
aussieben
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Mon Mar 27, 2017 11:42 am

This crash has always haunted me. It's the aviation equivalent of the Titanic disaster. RIP to all the victims of this needless tragedy 40 years ago today.

Due to it being the 40th anniversary, I've just re watched the Mayday/Air Crash Investigations special 'Crash of the Century.' It certainly was. I haven't yet seen the remake on the latest series of Mayday/Air Crash Investigations yet. Hope to do so soon.

One thing that disappoints me about 'Crash of the Century' was the way they portrayed Captain Van Zanten. Don't get me wrong, it is doubtless that he was responsible for the disaster. Despite the chain of events he chose to take off without clearance. Even continuing the takeoff after it became clear that the Pan Am 747 was still on the runway and his flight engineer questioning this. Yes it seems he was under stress and seemed to have a severe case of 'get there itis' However they had calculated the crew duty time and were always going to be within those limits, even if they took their time. Possibly the fog had contributed to this. He maybe thought the airport was on the verge of being shut down. Surely even in 1977 the phrase 'safety before schedule' would have been apparent though. Who gives a stuff if you're delayed overnight as long as you are safe. For him to be in ultimate legal command of an aircraft and responsible for the safety of hundreds of people and not follow through a logical process of 'safety before schedule' in his decision making, seems almost unthinkable.

However having said all that - In 'Crash of the Century' his personality is portrayed as basically being rude, arrogant, aggressive and bad tempered with no redeeming features whatsoever. Despite the many unthinkable shortcomings in his decision making process on that day, I find it hard the believe that he was anywhere near as bad as how he is is portrayed. Even before the days of CRM, there was still such a thing as basic professional courtesy. Also even though it was 40 years ago, 1977 wasn't the dark ages, teamwork was still required. I find it really unfortunate that an otherwise probably accurate documentary feels the need to portray him as such a pig and a bully. Especially when the man cannot defend himself from the grave. Presumably it was done to add dramatic affect.

We'll never really know why that accident occurred, when the chain of events leading up to it could have been so easily broken. It has made aviation safer so hopefully those 583 deaths are not in vain.

However history repeating itself - If only on a smaller scale - Linate Airport on October 8 2001, is a reminder that the only true preventative measure is eternal vigilance.
 
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CARST
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Mon Mar 27, 2017 11:57 am

ei146 wrote:
Hi CARST, while I share your thoughts about the flaws in the radio system and the need to replace it I do not see it as the MAJOR flaw leading to the disaster.
As with all of the accidents there was a number of contributing factors. Each of them could have resulted in a different outcome. Remember: The KLM 747 was in the take off roll already, without clearance from tower and with a second plane on the runway. This take off roll should not have happened, regardless what other circumstances there were.
With a better radio system KLM crew might have understood that things went wrong and might have been able to stop in time. But it did not cause the accident.


Just taking these few lines from Wikipedia:
The controller, who could not see the runway due to the fog, initially responded with "OK" (terminology which is nonstandard), which reinforced the KLM captain's misinterpretation that they had takeoff clearance. The controller's response of "OK" to the co-pilot's nonstandard statement that they were "now at takeoff" was likely due to his misinterpretation that they were in takeoff position and ready to begin the roll when takeoff clearance was received, but not in the process of taking off. The controller then immediately added "stand by for takeoff, I will call you,"[4] indicating that he had not intended the clearance to be interpreted as a takeoff clearance.[35] A simultaneous radio call from the Pan Am crew caused mutual interference on the radio frequency, which was audible in the KLM cockpit as a three-second-long whistling sound (or heterodyne). This caused the KLM crew to miss the crucial latter portion of the tower's response. The Pan Am crew's transmission was "We're still taxiing down the runway, the Clipper 1736!". This message was also blocked by the interference and inaudible to the KLM crew. Either message, if heard in the KLM cockpit, would have alerted the crew to the situation and given them time to abort the takeoff attempt.[36]


So whatever happened and whatever reasons there were (multiple reasons), a better radio system without interference would have saved all lifes in my opinion. Would have the KLM crew gotten the message "We're still taxiing down the runway, the Clipper 1736!", they would have aborted their takeoff-roll. An unbelievable disaster that could have been prevented. And it could still happen today, that is what makes it so sad.
 
na
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Mon Mar 27, 2017 11:59 am

While it was a very unusual, a unique chain of shortcomings and mistakes that led to the collision, the single decisive reason was human error of the KLM pilot. Whatever could be said in his favour, the fact remains that he had no takeoff clearance. How could he be so clear about the Pan Am Jumbo being off the runway without anybody saying so and without a clear order to take-off, and with a flight engineer questioning that? That cannot be explained by fog, stress, language problems and radio problems alone. If you are not 100% clear, and that can only be if you hear a clear order, you cannot go. Especially if you don´t see anything. It would have cost him just a few seconds more to be positively clear.
 
na
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Mon Mar 27, 2017 12:05 pm

CARST wrote:
Would have the KLM crew gotten the message "We're still taxiing down the runway, the Clipper 1736!", they would have aborted their takeoff-roll.

Sure, but the KLM crew heard nothing clear, and if you cannot be sure, you dont go. The radio problems were a major factor, yes, but the one decisive, final reason for the crash was that van Zanten went ahead without an order, on assumptions alone. What makes it even worse is that he could hear there were radio problems. All that is a fact and cannot be forgiven.
 
BravoOne
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Mon Mar 27, 2017 12:32 pm

As a side note the First Officer on the Pan Am flight recently passed away peacefully no less.
 
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Iemand91
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Mon Mar 27, 2017 12:49 pm

Even though this disaster happened years before I was born; it fascinates me to this day.

Some photo's, placed in chronological order:

Image
Image

It's hard to tell; but this looks to be the KLM 747. Probably a KLM crew member on the left?

Image
Image
Image

Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
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This last one is a particularly poignant photo. It's taken on Wednesday 6 April 1977 sometime after 15:00. It's the memorial service for the 248 victims of the KLM 747.
232 caskets in endless rows; 16 remains were already taken in by the family to be buried.
This service was held in hangar 11 at Schiphol. This very hangar was specifically built for the new KLM 747's.
The 747 was not a common sight at Schiphol when the first KLM 747 landed at Schiphol; the very first 747 at the airport was only half a year ago when on July 2, 1970 the very first 747 arrived at Schiphol in the form of Pan Am's N737PA "Clipper Red Jacket".
You can see the new built hangar 11 in the background on the picture below with "Clipper Red Jacket" in front:

Image

The first KLM 747 (PH-BUA "Mississippi") arrived at Schiphol at January 31, 1971. Part of the delivery cockpit crew was first officer Jacob Veldhuyzen van Zanten; I'm not sure but ages ago I've read somewhere he was part of the cockpit crew of every KLM 747-classic delivery flight before Tenerife happened. (at least the first 6-7 747's)
After docking PH-BUA to the gate "Mississippi" was towed to the new hangar 11.

6 years later a memorial service was held in the very same hangar for the victims of the KLM 747; including Van Zanten.

Image
Image
Image

A few weeks ago; Robert L. Bragg - the first-officer of the Pan Am 747) - passed away on the ago of 79 on February 9, 2017.
He was the last surviving member of the cockpitcrew. When United acquired the Pan Am pacific routes (and some aircraft) he went to United and eventually retired as a 747 captain.
He was piloting several inaugural United flights like Los Angeles to Beijing and Los Angeles to Frankfurt.

Another memorable Pan Am crewmember is/was(?) Dorothy Kelly. She was Junior Purser on the flight. The Senior purser asked her to work in the front instead of the back (apparently the Senior Purser was French and had an French accent and wasn't comfortable with that doing the announcements).
Therefore Dorothy was in the front of the 747 and the Senior Purser in the back; Dorothy surved; the Senior Purser didn't.

Sometime before Christmas 1988 she was asked by a fellow flight attendant to switch flights but she managed to get a long(er) layover to spend Christmas with her family.
The other girl didn't find any other flight attendant to switch her flight with; so she had to go. Her flight was Pan Am 103...

When Pan Am went down around the early '90's; so did she. She had to sleep at airports because she knew they were open 24/7.
Eventually she was hired by United as a flight attendent and apparently still going strong in 2007. (based on an interview on April that year)
Last edited by Iemand91 on Mon Mar 27, 2017 1:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Some aviation photo's on my Flickr-page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/iemand91/
 
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longhauler
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Mon Mar 27, 2017 12:55 pm

In addition to all the salient comments above, the accident was also a huge turning point in air accident investigation itself.

The cause of the accident was that the KLM aircraft took off without a take-off clearance. Period. In times before this investigation, it may well have just stopped there. "Pilot Error" ... done, go home, nothing more to see ... close the books. But ...

It didn't end there. It was a very thorough investigation, involving three nation's investigation teams, lasting years that finally answered the question, "Why would someone so experienced, working for a reputable airline, make such a basic mistake?"

This accident is a classic example of the Reason Error Model (Swiss Cheese). Remove one small component, or slice, and this accident would not have occurred. And there are dozens and dozens of small components and occurrences that for the sake of one small change ...

RIP to all, and all affected. Rest knowing that this accident DID make aviation safer.
Just because I stopped arguing, doesn't mean I think you are right. It just means I gave up!
 
thegoldenargosy
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Mon Mar 27, 2017 1:20 pm

One of the Pan Am FA's is still flying for Delta out of ATL. Does anyone know what Dorothy Kelly is up to these days?
 
klwright69
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Mon Mar 27, 2017 1:23 pm

Oh really Robert Bragg has passed away? That is too bad. I believe there were also two people in the PA cockpit riding in the jump seats. They had also survived the accident. I read the reports saying that after the impact they were hanging upside in the first floor of the plane strapped into their seats. But they were omitted in the film. There is also a famous picture of Captain Victor Grubbs standing watching as the plane was burning. Maybe Bragg will have a reunion in heaven with everyone that died on that fateful day.

It was shocking to consider the bizarre chain of events that caused the accident.

I read have read a lot about this accident. A retirement community called Leisure World had 65 residents on the flight. Only 10 of them survived.

The whole story is so cinematic it's almost worthy of a real movie. And consider the woman from the KLM flight that got off in Tenerife and decided not to reboard.

Irma Shlecht who was also featured in the film has also recently passed, she was really old.
 
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Polot
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Re: Was Van Zanten to blame?

Mon Mar 27, 2017 6:52 pm

Solely? No. Was he a big factor? Definitely.
 
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Dutchy
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Re: Was Van Zanten to blame?

Mon Mar 27, 2017 6:56 pm

Ultimately yes, but there were a lot of factors in play. The bomb at the original destination, fog at the airport, unclear transmission, CRM, not standard communication between the tower, Pan Am unclear which exit the should take, fueled up KLM etc. etc.
Many happy landings, greetings from The Netherlands!
 
DTWSAN
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:05 pm

this accident led to crew resource e management. captain still final authority but was told to respect AND LISTEN TO HIS SUBORDINATES.
 
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PatrickZ80
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:17 pm

PS here is an article about Derk Meurs, son of Klaas Meurs who was the copilot of the KLM 747 that day. Derk Meurs is now a captain for Transavia and therefor frequently visits Tenerife.

http://www.luchtvaartnieuws.nl/nieuws/c ... g-geworden
 
DTWSAN
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:24 pm

PatrickZ80 wrote:
PS here is an article about Derk Meurs, son of Klaas Meurs who was the copilot of the KLM 747 that day. Derk Meurs is now a captain for Transavia and therefor frequently visits Tenerife.

http://www.luchtvaartnieuws.nl/nieuws/c ... g-geworden

is there a way to translate it to English?
 
Gasman
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Mon Mar 27, 2017 8:50 pm

aussieben wrote:
TOne thing that disappoints me about 'Crash of the Century' was the way they portrayed Captain Van Zanten. Don't get me wrong, it is doubtless that he was responsible for the disaster. Despite the chain of events he chose to take off without clearance. Even continuing the takeoff after it became clear that the Pan Am 747 was still on the runway and his flight engineer questioning this. Yes it seems he was under stress and seemed to have a severe case of 'get there itis' However they had calculated the crew duty time and were always going to be within those limits, even if they took their time. Possibly the fog had contributed to this. He maybe thought the airport was on the verge of being shut down. Surely even in 1977 the phrase 'safety before schedule' would have been apparent though. Who gives a stuff if you're delayed overnight as long as you are safe. For him to be in ultimate legal command of an aircraft and responsible for the safety of hundreds of people and not follow through a logical process of 'safety before schedule' in his decision making, seems almost unthinkable.

However having said all that - In 'Crash of the Century' his personality is portrayed as basically being rude, arrogant, aggressive and bad tempered with no redeeming features whatsoever. Despite the many unthinkable shortcomings in his decision making process on that day, I find it hard the believe that he was anywhere near as bad as how he is is portrayed. Even before the days of CRM, there was still such a thing as basic professional courtesy. Also even though it was 40 years ago, 1977 wasn't the dark ages, teamwork was still required. I find it really unfortunate that an otherwise probably accurate documentary feels the need to portray him as such a pig and a bully. Especially when the man cannot defend himself from the grave. Presumably it was done to add dramatic affect.


I agree. The way "Crash of the Century" portrayed van Zanten was imbecilic, and detracts from the validity of what is otherwise quite a good portrayal of the disaster.

As far as we can tell, van Zanten was a professional person and generally well liked and respected. If anyone was to drop dead tomorrow and achieve worldwide fame, you'll always find a few who would be prepared to come out and say "they were a complete arse". In terms of his conduct on the day, reports from the ground crew and controllers suggest he was relaxed and courteous - but CVR analysis revealed something changed in his demeanour about half way through the taxi.Something at that point (possibly the fog, or a cummulation of everything that occurred that day) spooked him, and deep inside a voice started telling him to "get the hell out of here".
 
sevenair
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Mon Mar 27, 2017 9:26 pm

Something changed, yes - the flight deck door closed. Some crew are nice as pie, make jokes and appear to be really nice people. However they're like Jekyll and Hyde and turn once the door is closed. If you fly you'll know several of these people!
 
aussieben
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Mon Mar 27, 2017 11:20 pm

So sad to hear Robert Bragg has only just passed away. RIP. It seems like he went on to have a very distinguished and fulfilling career. In hearing him talk about the disaster on many occasions in the years since, he came across as such a professional.

It seems him and the Pan Am crew did everything they could to avert the disaster once they became aware that the KLM was coming at them through the fog. I've often thought where there is a matter of mere feet between totally averting disaster: Could it have been avoided if the Pan Am had just stopped in the middle of the runway rather than trying to steer off the runway? Even though its a natural gut reaction to get out of the way, by accelerating in those final few seconds they bought the distance that much closer together. Also once coming to a complete stop, could they then have used full reverse thrust to start going backwards?

Conversely, could it have been avoided had the KLM abandoned takeoff when they saw the Pan Am? There were approx 9 seconds between when the aircraft sighted each other and the collision, I think they were above V1. However they were well below being able to fly. As evidenced by the tailstrike and the accident itself. Had they executed a maximum effort stop and steered left off the runway, is it possible they could have avoided the crash? Sure steering off the runway at such a speed probably would have been uncomfortable and likely may have damaged the landing gear and engines, but would it have not been possible and survivable?

I realise it doesn't make a difference now. However out of all the 'what ifs' asked at Tenerife, nobody has ever looked at these two scenarios. They are something I've always thought about. Having said that, hindsight is a wonderful thing, To be able to factor in human reactions, thought processes and reflexes into a 9 second window of opportunity is maybe asking too much.
.
 
aussieben
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Mon Mar 27, 2017 11:53 pm

sevenair wrote:
Something changed, yes - the flight deck door closed. Some crew are nice as pie, make jokes and appear to be really nice people. However they're like Jekyll and Hyde and turn once the door is closed. If you fly you'll know several of these people!


I agree. Human nature is very very strange. In any industry you're likely to come across 'successful' people who seem to have a split personality or deep character flaws.

However my problem with Van Zanten's portrayal in 'Crash of the Century' is that he had that character the whole time. Towards everyone, not just when the flight deck door was closed. I don't know how accurate it was.

Having said that if you read the CVR transcripts the Pan Am crew seemed pretty annoyed with him after he abruptly told how long it would take to refuel. Then the lines from Pan Am 'Yeah he's anxious isn't he?' and 'Now he's in a rush' about a second before they saw him, seems to reflect at least a kind of bemused frustration at Van Zanten's attitude on the part of the Pan Am crew.
 
tupperjets
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:29 am

DTWSAN wrote:
is there a way to translate it to English?

Yes, yes there is.
lessonslearned.faa.gov
 
iamlucky13
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:49 am

Thank you all for bringing up this unfortunate anniversary, and especially Iemand91 for taking the time to put together those photos and anecdotes.

Iemand91 wrote:
Another memorable Pan Am crewmember is/was(?) Dorothy Kelly. She was Junior Purser on the flight. The Senior purser asked her to work in the front instead of the back (apparently the Senior Purser was French and had an French accent and wasn't comfortable with that doing the announcements).
Therefore Dorothy was in the front of the 747 and the Senior Purser in the back; Dorothy surved; the Senior Purser didn't.

Sometime before Christmas 1988 she was asked by a fellow flight attendant to switch flights but she managed to get a long(er) layover to spend Christmas with her family.
The other girl didn't find any other flight attendant to switch her flight with; so she had to go. Her flight was Pan Am 103...


That's chilling to think about. I'd never heard about her before.
 
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AerolineasAR343
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Tue Mar 28, 2017 1:58 am

What has struck with me all these years is how many layers does this accident have, how many little things that, if changed, would have made a world of difference. I remember reading about Van Zanten and how he was doing sim training in the time pryor to the crash, where he would be accostumed to give the order to "take off" himself instead of waiting for the tower to do so. I think that little part played a big role in the tragedy.

Van Zanten vas a respected senior airman and even the face of the company in some ads

Image
 
cpd
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Tue Mar 28, 2017 2:07 am

Iemand91 wrote:
Even though this disaster happened years before I was born; it fascinates me to this day.

Some photo's, placed in chronological order:


That was a pretty haunting post.
 
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EGTESkyGod
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Tue Mar 28, 2017 3:42 am

Awful accident and of course we share the sentiments of sympathy for all the victims and their families.

cpd wrote:
That was a pretty haunting post.


Totally agree.

And Chris, great to see you on Anet again. Been a while!
I came, I saw, I Concorde! www.gofundme.com/lineupandwait
 
mwh787
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Tue Mar 28, 2017 4:03 am

I personally knew 2 people who died in the disaster.. Also I knew 6 survivors !!! Small town tour group
 
cpd
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Tue Mar 28, 2017 4:19 am

EGTESkyGod wrote:
Awful accident and of course we share the sentiments of sympathy for all the victims and their families.

cpd wrote:
That was a pretty haunting post.


Totally agree.

And Chris, great to see you on Anet again. Been a while!


Yeah, it has - last time was I think at Circular Quay. Hope all is good. I'll be over in Europe later this year, Innsbruck then down to Venice through the Dolomites, on a bicycle. :)
 
aussieben
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Tue Mar 28, 2017 4:57 am

'Black Box' was a Documentary series that was kind of like a 1990's precursor to Mayday/Air Crash Investigations. It was not as well known and slightly different in that each episode focused on several different crashes rather than just one. The link for the Tenerife crash is below

Part 1 (Skip to 4:42 for start of Tenerife):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnspI8P_wrc

Part 2:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__sHqYEF204

Part 3:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-7pwCUGO0o

Has footage of Bob Bragg being interviewed after going back to Tenerife. Standing eerily alongside the runway and still able to pick through small pieces of uncleared wreckage. At the time that was filmed, it was probably close to the 20th anniversary. These films also have footage of Dorothy Kelly being interviewed.
 
klwright69
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Tue Mar 28, 2017 6:10 pm

I would love to have met Robert Bragg. If you do an internet search, he has been a voice for air safety over the years, having given hundreds of interviews about his experience. Sometimes pilots do survive incidents, but he seems to be the most vocal of all of them. He certainly didn't fade away. He has a message to share, likes the media, likes to tell his story, or all of the above. In one article he says how the survivors walked out on to the wings, and one by one jumped off. Apparently a person was on the ground at the bottom lying on the ground, and said person buffered everyone's fall. I remember someone on this forum met him and posted the picture with him. Bragg has also retold how he's probably the only one who has every jumped out of the cockpit of a 747, and thankfully the 747 was over the grass he said.

Other survivors stories have been published. Apparently lots of people sat motionless and frozen in time, burned alive without attempting to escape. That was a common observation.

This topic has been discussed to death over the years. I hope not many of you try and rehash everything to re adjudicate who was at fault.
 
aussieben
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Wed Mar 29, 2017 1:25 am

klwright69 wrote:
This topic has been discussed to death over the years. I hope not many of you try and rehash everything to re adjudicate who was at fault.


Agreed. There were lots of people at fault and you break any link in the chain to avert disaster. However I see no harm in further discussion among aviation professionals and enthusiasts.

As the saying goes 'Those who forget the mistakes of the past are bound to repeat them' So I find that discussion is healthy. However I do agree trying to apportion blame 40 years after the event is counterproductive.

One thing I've always wondered is if Pan Am would have survived, had this and other disasters like Lockerbie not occurred. They were in quite a strong position in the late 70s and early 80s but after they sold their Pacific routes to UA in the mid 80s they started going backwards. By the time Lockerbie occurred they were probably already in decline and it was just one of the final straws. They really needed a huge injection of capital after the merger with National Airlines. A fleet renewal and network restructure, to purchase maybe 757s and 767s and maybe the 747-400 or A320 later in the decade, would have stood them in good stead. However despite them being an iconic brand, I don't know if they would be ultimately left standing as one of the US3 today. Perhaps after merging with UA and a member of star alliance in an alternate universe.

I actually really liked their final 'billboard' livery. However I would have reversed the colours: White writing on a blue background and same with the globe on the tail. I think that would have looked awesome on any aircraft. :D
 
ltbewr
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Wed Mar 29, 2017 2:34 am

I was in my final year of college when this happened, it was a lead story on the news here in the USA, but as before cable news, it only was a few minutes and only for a day or 2.
Even today, 40 years later, the possible causes of this disaster continue to be debated and it still teaches lessons in safety. Still other crashes somewhat similar have occurred since then (US Air at LAX in the early 1990's for example), adding more changes in procedures.
 
aussieben
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Wed Mar 29, 2017 3:14 am

ltbewr wrote:
I was in my final year of college when this happened, it was a lead story on the news here in the USA, but as before cable news, it only was a few minutes and only for a day or 2.


That's really interesting re: media coverage. It actually happened a year before I was born and ten years (almost to the day) before I took my first flight. I was actually in the middle my first overseas trip on the tenth anniversary.

I didn't even become aware of this accident until about a year after that (1988/89) when I saw a TV documentary on 'human error' that covered it. I've been fascinated and haunted by it ever since.

The media coverage is interesting even today - When we have 24 hour news cycles and access to information instantly. Other than the broader aviation community the anniversary seems to have gone widely unreported. Maybe the 50th in 10 years time will get noticed a bit more.

I talked to my parents about it recently. They were in their late 20s at the time and neither of them are interested in aviation and they could both only vaguely remember it, so reporting of it at the time must have only been limited.

The 30th anniversary of Lockerbie is coming up next year. I wonder if that will get reported in the wider media.

If a similar accident happened these days and I dearly hope it doesn't (say between 2 A380s) The media coverage would be over the top and probably rightly so. Thankfully and hopefully the lessons learnt from this and other accidents will prevent a repeat.
 
777LRF
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Wed Mar 29, 2017 7:23 am

One serious point of question I've always had and one i've never really noticed being asked is why couldn't the TFN Controller refer to taxiways by their name instead of something ambiguous like "Leave the runway 3rd to your left "?. It's such an easy and basic thing to do and may have affected the resulting chain of events.
 
skywaymanaz
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Wed Mar 29, 2017 7:45 am

777LRF wrote:
why couldn't the TFN Controller refer to taxiways by their name instead of something ambiguous like "Leave the runway 3rd to your left "?


That's bothered me too. I heard Robert Bragg say something in one of the documentaries about the taxiways not being marked. I wasn't sure if he meant on the chart or the physical sign placements or both. They are labeled in the official reports so I believe he meant the sign placement was non existent. Ironically this came up in the Linate disaster investigation too. Poor to non existent taxiway markings and signage or markings that didn't match the chart. The Dutch report tried to put some blame on the controllers and this is one of only two areas I can see there might have been an issue. If there were no signs though I can understand the controller saying "third to the left" even if it says C3 or C4 on his and the pilot charts. The reports do criticize all parties involved for non standard phraseology and this is likely one of them.

The other area I always questioned was why Pan Am had to backtrack behind KLM instead of wait for KLM to depart first. One possible reason is Pan Am may have been parked past the ILS hold line. If that was the case then no one could take off once conditions deteriorated until both KLM and Pan Am moved. If they had to clear the traffic past the ILS hold line you can't blame the controllers in any way. If it was discretionary to get the line moving faster I think it would be unfair to blame them but probably suggest don't use this procedure in the future in low visibility unless mandatory above.
 
LLA001
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Wed Mar 29, 2017 8:56 am

Is there any data for near miss events during the 70s? I wonder if this accident reduced the number of near misses,
 
SonOfABeech
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Wed Mar 29, 2017 11:49 am

Regarding radio comms, would it be useful to use something like an instant messaging app? Just make it better and more reliable than what we have on our phones.
 
WA707atMSP
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Wed Mar 29, 2017 1:07 pm

One thought I have about this disaster:

There have been many improvements in making aircraft cabins more fire resistant, which slow the spread of fires and give passengers more time to escape.

Many passengers on the Pan Am 747 survived the impact from the KLM 747, only to die in the post crash fire. I think if the accident were to occur today, at least some of these passengers might have survived, because the flames would have spread more slowly, allowing them to escape from the undamaged (left) side of the 747.
 
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OA412
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Wed Mar 29, 2017 2:42 pm

AerolineasAR343 wrote:
Van Zanten vas a respected senior airman and even the face of the company in some ads


And indeed KL was looking for him to give a statement on the accident when they found out it was him piloting the doomed aircraft.
Hughes Airwest - Top Banana In The West
 
CO953
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Wed Mar 29, 2017 4:15 pm

Hard to believe it's been 40 years, because I remember it like yesterday. As a 10-year-old airplane nut who always loved our summer travel on DC-10s and L1011s, the full color photos in Time Magazine of the wing of the burning PanAm plane, with the bloodied survivors stumbling into the grass, were utterly terrifying because a 747 was the hugest thing imaginable to me and this could not happen.

It was really brought home because one of the identifiable men in one of the photos was my neighbor up the street whose newspaper I delivered. He was in his 50s and quite overweight. He had somehow made it out by reacting immediately and climbing through a rupture in the ceiling, cutting himself badly in the process. Yet, the fit 35-year-old man sitting next to him, with whom he was traveling with on business, never made it out of his seat. That was the father of one of my friends at school and it was so very sad for his bereaved family. The story my neighbor told the local paper was that there were only a few seconds to get out because of fire and smoke. The older man reacted immediately and the younger one sat there in shock for a bit and then the smoke closed in and it turned out that a few seconds was all the difference it made for the smoke to overcome him and he was unresponsive so the older man had to leave him to save his own life. I couldn't fathom how a man the size of the overweight older man climbed out of the ceiling of an airplane.

I think of my friend's family when this sad anniversary comes up. RIP to them all.
 
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AerolineasAR343
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Wed Mar 29, 2017 11:26 pm

Something I've just thought of, in regards of this and the Linate disaster. Couldn't the runway be equipped with some kind of sensor or laser that informs traffic control or pilots if it's in use? Like putting along wheight sensors (that would be expensive I think) or lasers that scan the area of the runway for something that resembles an airplane. Would that be feasible? Would that be useful?
 
tmu101
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Thu Mar 30, 2017 6:06 am

Didn't the Pan Am flight want to stay airborne and hold instead of land in Tenerife? I thought i remember reading something about that. They were inbound and had enough fuel to stay aloft for at least a little bit while the situation in Los Rodeos was being resolved.

Such a terrible tragedy - RIP to all those lost on that day.
 
skywaymanaz
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Thu Mar 30, 2017 11:58 am

One of the documentaries said they had fuel to hold for 2 hours. I believe they were on the ground at Tenerife at least twice that long. ATC probably did the right thing getting them on the ground early before they ran out of parking spaces.
 
bmacleod
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Thu Mar 30, 2017 2:41 pm

Gasman wrote:
aussieben wrote:
TOne thing that disappoints me about 'Crash of the Century' was the way they portrayed Captain Van Zanten. Don't get me wrong, it is doubtless that he was responsible for the disaster. Despite the chain of events he chose to take off without clearance. Even continuing the takeoff after it became clear that the Pan Am 747 was still on the runway and his flight engineer questioning this. Yes it seems he was under stress and seemed to have a severe case of 'get there itis' However they had calculated the crew duty time and were always going to be within those limits, even if they took their time. Possibly the fog had contributed to this. He maybe thought the airport was on the verge of being shut down. Surely even in 1977 the phrase 'safety before schedule' would have been apparent though. Who gives a stuff if you're delayed overnight as long as you are safe. For him to be in ultimate legal command of an aircraft and responsible for the safety of hundreds of people and not follow through a logical process of 'safety before schedule' in his decision making, seems almost unthinkable.

However having said all that - In 'Crash of the Century' his personality is portrayed as basically being rude, arrogant, aggressive and bad tempered with no redeeming features whatsoever. Despite the many unthinkable shortcomings in his decision making process on that day, I find it hard the believe that he was anywhere near as bad as how he is is portrayed. Even before the days of CRM, there was still such a thing as basic professional courtesy. Also even though it was 40 years ago, 1977 wasn't the dark ages, teamwork was still required. I find it really unfortunate that an otherwise probably accurate documentary feels the need to portray him as such a pig and a bully. Especially when the man cannot defend himself from the grave. Presumably it was done to add dramatic affect.


I agree. The way "Crash of the Century" portrayed van Zanten was imbecilic, and detracts from the validity of what is otherwise quite a good portrayal of the disaster.

As far as we can tell, van Zanten was a professional person and generally well liked and respected. If anyone was to drop dead tomorrow and achieve worldwide fame, you'll always find a few who would be prepared to come out and say "they were a complete arse". In terms of his conduct on the day, reports from the ground crew and controllers suggest he was relaxed and courteous - but CVR analysis revealed something changed in his demeanour about half way through the taxi.Something at that point (possibly the fog, or a cummulation of everything that occurred that day) spooked him, and deep inside a voice started telling him to "get the hell out of here".



The producers of Mayday/Air Disaster may have wanted to dramatize the character/personality of pilots to fit their responsibility for the disaster. After seeing his face on the KLM advertisement I felt the producers made the wrong call in making Van Zanten rude and aggressive.

Air Disaster/Mayday have made other dramatic errors in other episodes - like the Gimli Glider episode where they characterized the fuel technician as being rude and incompetent.
"What good are wings without the courage to fly?" - Atticus
 
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flyingturtle
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Thu Mar 30, 2017 5:31 pm

AerolineasAR343 wrote:
Something I've just thought of, in regards of this and the Linate disaster. Couldn't the runway be equipped with some kind of sensor or laser that informs traffic control or pilots if it's in use? Like putting along wheight sensors (that would be expensive I think) or lasers that scan the area of the runway for something that resembles an airplane. Would that be feasible? Would that be useful?


Actually, the Linate airport had sensors that register when a plane enters a runway - but some of them have not been working............... if a plane enters the runway, it's "in use". The guys up at the tower then have to make sure the plane has left the runway, and then reset the runway's status to "not in use". So simple - in theory.

David
Reading accident reports is what calms me down
 
OB1504
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Re: 40 years since Tenerife

Thu Mar 30, 2017 8:34 pm

SonOfABeech wrote:
Regarding radio comms, would it be useful to use something like an instant messaging app? Just make it better and more reliable than what we have on our phones.


It's much easier/faster to speak while flying an airplane than it is to type a message. ACARS already incorporates some basic text messaging functionality but it's not meant for critical communications like with air traffic control.

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