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Tenerife airport disaster

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Tenerife airport disaster
KLM Flight 4805 · Pan Am Flight 1736
Accident summary
Date March 27, 1977
Summary Ground collision, runway excursion
Place Tenerife North Airport
Passengers 380 (Pan Am)
234 (KLM)
Crew 16 (Pan Am)
14 (KLM)
Injuries (non-fatal) 61 (All Pan Am)
Fatalities 335 (Pan Am)
248 (KLM)
total 583
Survivors 61 (All Pan Am)
Aircraft type Boeing 747-121 (Pan Am)
Boeing 747-209B (KLM)
Airline/user Pan Am
Registration N736PA (Pan Am)
Flew from Los Angeles International Airport (Pan Am)
Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (KLM)
Flying to Gran Canaria International Airport (Both)

The Tenerife airport disaster happened on March 27, 1977, when two Boeing 747s collided on the ground of Los Rodeos Airport (now Tenerife North Airport). This crash killed 583 people onboard the two flights.

The crash was caused by many reasons. One reason is that as the KLM captain wanted to takeoff quickly so that he could return to Amsterdam. This made him misunderstand that he was cleared by Air Traffic Controller to takeoff and so he began to take off, eventually crashing into the Pan Am flight.[1] At that time, the Tenerife North Airport did not have ground radar, so the controllers could not know that the KLM flight was taking off.[2]

Another reason was the fog surrounding the airport. The bad weather reduced the visibility, meaning the pilots could not see each other and neither could the controllers see the two planes on the runway. Because of the fog, the pilots only saw each other at the last minute, when they could not have prevented the crash. If there was no fog, the KLM crew would have seen the Pan Am plane on the runway and would not have taken off.[2]

It was the worst crash in the history of aviation.[3]


  1. "ASN Aircraft Accident Boeing 747-121 N736PA Tenerife-Norte Los Rodeos Airport (TFN)." Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Mayday, Crash of the Century (Special). Cineflix, 2006.
  3. "Aviation Safety Network > Statistics > Worst accidents > 100 worst accidents." Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved April 7,