Two Boat Trips companies KLM and Pan American collided The Tenerife aerodromein the Canary Islands of Spain, transforming them intotomb"Hundreds of passengers.
The tragedy of 1977 – according to what emerged from the investigations of the time – is due in a sequence of tragic incidents.
Explosion of bomb
Everything started at 13:15 on March 27 of that year when a bomb exploded at his airport Gran CanariaThe largest island in the Canary Islands, located in northwestern Africa, belongs to Spain and is a popular tourist destination.
The bomb had placed members of the separatist organization "Armed Groups of (Native) Wanche" (Fuerzas Armadas Guanches) and the explosion caused the injury of a person.
The authorities immediately interrupted the operation of the airport and air traffic circulated at Los Rodeos airport of the neighboring island Tenerife.
Bottlelift at the airport
Therefore, the indissoluble parked aircraft, causing a "headache" in the airport control tower.
And as if that were not enough, a thick dense fog covered every inch.
Among the many parked aircraft, the two fatal Boeing 747s.
One belonged to the American company Pan American and was flying 1736 "Los Angeles – New York – Gran Canaria" with 380 passengers and 16 crew and the other in Dutch KLM. She was doing it Flight 4085 "Amsterdam – Gran Canaria" with 234 passengers and Crew of 14 members.
When around 5 pm opened the airport of Gran Canaria, the control tower of the airport of Tenerife began to give orders for the gradual departure of aircraft.
The fog, however, remained dense and the visibility in the hallway is quite low. In the absence of terrestrial radar, communication between the control tower and the aircraft was done by radio.
A series of misconceptions brought the two Boeing to the runway.
When Las Palmas finally opened, conditions on Tenerife became particularly dangerous due to low cloudiness.
Without a ground radar, the control tower was almost unable to decongest the airport and handle all flights.
This was – according to the survey – and the focal point from which the sequence of errors began.
The role of the control tower
After one a tragic decision the controller in the control tower, the two fatal aircraft were instructed to land at the same time on the central jet, initially in the same direction one after another and then in the opposite direction.
The idea was that until 747 KLM would take off for takeoff, Pan American 747 could enter an auxiliary lane.
The beginning of the end
The controllers give Boeing's Dutch instruction to go to the end of the active aisle and dock to the other end, where he will retreat waiting for a command to take off. Typically, aircraft that take a takeoff line are moving on an internal lane to the starting point, but now this secondary lane is blocked by parked aircraft.
The same directive – taxiing in the active aisle to its "starting point" – is also given to Pan Am 1736 a few seconds later, except that the American aircraft must clear the lane at exit 3 so that KLM can take off.
The American pilot he asks to stay out of an active aisle, until the other aircraft takes off. But his co-pilot talks to the control tower and he does not listen to youto request permission. The governor does not insist and the Pan Am 747 enters the active aisle following the KLM aircraft while the visibility is getting worse the ground lights indicate that the center lane is off.
At about the same time, the KLM aircraft completes its reversal and the pilot begins to increase engine power. The co-pilot calls the tower and asks for permission for its course after takeoff. The controller gives you instructions. The pilot then says: "We're leaving!"
His sentence, however, it's not said on the radio – is intended only for the crew – so it does not give a warning signal to the tower, nor to the cockpit of Pan Am that is tuned to the same frequency of communication and still with the taxi drivers in the main hall.
The co-pilot announces the tower that the takeoff begins. The controller whistles, but he does not believe that a pilot could start without being licensed and considers (according to what he said later) that what has been said is that the plane is stopped, in a takeoff position: "OK … get ready to take off. I'll call you back."
But those words, which would avoid tragedy, are never heard in KLM's cockpit. Just the "OK" sounds, giving the crew the impression that the tower is taking off.
Immediately after "OK", the Pan Am team shouted at the radio: "No, we're still in the main hall."
But the phrase coincides with the tower's command to KLM: "Be ready to take off. I'll call you," resulting in a whistle that is prevents messages from being heard by their recipients.
After two seconds – and while the KLM jumbo is in constant development – the tower asks Pan Am to empty the hall to report it.
Suddenly, through the fog, the Dutch 747's lights are projected, brighter and brighter.
The American pilot watching the plane approaches them makes one last attempt turn left the huge aircraft pulling it in the grass while the other pilot watching in front of the jumbo, makes a scream and tries desperately to take off.
The nose of the plane is on the rise, though his tail creeps in the hallway. Finally, a few meters above the ground, the front of the axle is scraped over the other aircraft, but its engines break the ceiling of the American 747.
The two planes after the accident ignite. Of the 248 passengers in flight 4805 nobody is saved, while of 747 by Pan Am finally, surviving 61 people in 396.
When rescue workers arrived all they found was a an amorphous mass of flaming debris.
At the same time, in the dense fog, perplexed by panic, they did not immediately realize that a few hundred yards ahead was Pan American 747. There he prevailed the absolute chaos.
Most of the passenger cabin had been crushed. The fire, the smoke, and the glowing fragments of the engine blades, still in operation, took one life after another.
Those who survived a miracle had to cross a literally belligerent zone for salvation.
The causes of the tragedy are disputed
Although the causes of the tragedy in Tenerife are contested by the countries involved (USA, Netherlands, Spain), It is widely accepted that weather conditions, lack of radar combined with KLM pilot errors and not airport size are the main reasons for this.
Today the airport has been renamed Tenerife North Airport.
Note also that The Tenerife aerial tragedy resulted in a series of measures taken by ICAO to avoid similar incidents in the future.
Most important was the introduction of a standardized phraseology between the control tower and the aircraft commander in order to avoid misunderstandings and mitigate the ruler's sovereign on the aircraft.
Crew members are encouraged to express their objections to the governor, with regard to flight safety matters, and he / she must make any decision, taking into account the observations of his or her subordinates.
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