Re: Info needed ??!!

Date:         08 Feb 99 02:49:38 
From:         Lukas Lusser <>
Organization: Europainstitut Basel
References:   1 2
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And in to addition to what Karl Swartz wrote: If I remember correctly,
weather at the time of the accident was dense fog at ground level. An
excerpt of the report can be found at the aviation safety pages at in their archives, filed under the year
1977.  The excerpt reads as follows (quote):

    Remarks: At 12.30h a bomb explodes in the Las Palmas passenger
    terminal. Because of warnings of a possible second bomb, the airport
    was closed. A large number of flights were diverted to Tenerife,
    a.o. KLM Flight 4805 from Amsterdam and PanAm Flight 1736 (coming
    from Los Angeles and New York). Las Palmas Airport opened to traffic
    again at 15.00h. Because the PanAm passengers remained on aboard it
    was possible to leave Tenerife at once. The taxiways were congested
    by other aircraft however. This meant the PanAm crew had to
    backtrack on Runway 12 for take-off on Runway 30. The entrance to
    Runway 12 however, was blocked by the KLM Boeing. The PanAm flight
    had to wait for almost 2 hours before all KLM passengers (except 1)
    had reboarded and refuelling had taken place. The KLM flight was
    then cleared to backtrack Runway 12 and make a 180deg. turn at the
    end. Three minutes later (at 17.02h) Pan Am 1736 was cleared to
    follow the KLM aircraft and backtrack Runway 12. The PanAm crew were
    told to leave the runway at the third taxiway and report leaving the
    runway. At 17.05:44h KLM 4805 reported ready for take-off and was
    given instructions for a Papa beacon departure.  The KLM crew
    repeated the instructions and added "We are now at take-off". The
    brakes were released and KLM 4805 started the take-off roll.
    Tenerife tower, knowing that Pan Am 1736 was still taxying down the
    runway replied "OK ...... Stand by for take-off, I will call you."
    This message coincided with the PanAm crew's transmission "No ... uh
    we're stil taxiing down the runway, the Clipper 1736". These
    communications caused a shrill noise in the KLM cockpit, lasting
    approx. 3.74 seconds. Tenerife tower replied: "Papa Alpha 1736
    report runway clear.", wereupon the PanAm crew replied: "OK, will
    report when we're clear". This caused some concerns with the KLM
    flight engineer asking the captain: "Is he not clear then?" After
    repeating his question the captain answers emphatically: "Oh, yes".
    A number of second before impact the KLM crew saw the PanAm Boeing
    still taxiing down the runway.  The crew tried to climb away and
    became airborne after a 65ft taildrag in an excessive rotation. The
    PanAm crew immediately turned the aircraft to the right and applied
    full power. The KLM aircraft was airborne, but the fuselage skidded
    over the PanAm's aft fuselage, destroying it and shearing off the
    tail. The KLM aircraft flew on and crashed out of control 150m
    further on, sliding another 300m bursting into flames.

    PROBABLE CAUSE: "The KLM aircraft had taken off without take-off
    clearance, in the absolute conviction that this clearance had been
    obtained, which was the result of a misunderstanding between the
    tower and the KLM aircraft. This misunderstanding had arisen from
    the mutual use of usual terminology which, however, gave rise to
    misinterpretation.  In combination with a number of other coinciding
    circumstances, the premature take-off of the KLM aircraft resulted
    in a collision with the Pan Am aircraft, because the latter was
    still on the runway since it had missed the correct intersection."

    Source:  Flight Safety Digest July 1995(1-10)/Flight Safety
    Foundation + ICAO Circular 153-AN/56 (p.22-68) Human factors report
    on the Tenerife accident / Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) +
    'Tenerife report blames KLM', FI 23.12.78 (2240); 'Tenerife: the
    last analysis', FI 20.01.1979 (194-196)

End quote. Hope it helps,