Monday, March 27, 2017
Terrible Aviation Date in History
The worst plane crash in history occurred on March 27, 1977 when two Boeing 747 passenger jets collided on the runway at Los Rodeos Airport (now Tenerife North Airport), in the Canary Islands. The crash killed 583 people, making it the deadliest accident in aviation history. As a result of the complex interactions of organizational influences, environmental conditions and unsafe acts the disaster has become textbook example for reviewing the processes and frameworks tools to use in aviation mishap investigations and accident prevention
The set up for the event started out with a bomb explosion at Gran Canaria Airport and the threat of a second bomb, caused many aircraft to be diverted to Los Rodeos Airport. The KLM flight 4805 and Pan Am 1736 were two aircraft involved in the accident. Air traffic controllers at the Los Rodeos Airport were forced to park many planes on the taxiway which therefore blocked it. Authorities were forced not to reopen the Gran Canaria as a dense fog had developed and greatly reduced visibility.
When the Gran Canaria was able to reopen the parked aircraft blocking the taxiway at Tenerife required both of the large planes on the only runway in order to takeoff. The thick fog made it hard to see and neither aircraft could be seen from the other. The controller tower could not see the runway or the two large planes on it. There was no ground radar so the controller decided to use voice reports over the radio to locate planes
Spain became responsible for the disaster that occurred on their territory. The crash was an airplane from the U.S. and another from the Netherlands. Both countries appointed their own representative to investigate. The investigation proved that the pilot of the KLM flight took off without clearance from the air traffic control. It was not intentional take off without clearance but that the pilot believed he had clearance but it was a misunderstanding between flight crew and the ATC. The Dutch placed a greater emphasis on this than their American and Spanish investigators. The plane crew admitted responsibility.
Communication has gained an increased emphasis was placed on using standardized ATC communication by controllers and pilots. The chance for misunderstandings therefore is reduced. The word "Takeoff" was removed from usage and is only used by ATC when clearing an aircraft for takeoff. Flight crew members have been encouraged to challenge their captains and captains have been instructed to listen to the crew and evaluate all decisions in light of crew concerns.