Two 747 Jumbo Jets collide at Tenerife
27th March 1977

27.03.77 (17.06) Boeing 747-121
N736PA (19643/11) Pan American World Airways
335 fatalities / 396 occupants + 248
Location: Tenerife (Spain) Nature: Non Scheduled Passenger
Phase: from: Tenerife-Norte Los Rodeos to: Las Palmas Flightnr.: PA1736

27.03.77 (17.06) Boeing 747-206B
PH-BUF (20400/157) KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
248 fatalities / 248 occupants + 335
Location: Tenerife (Spain) Nature: Non Scheduled Passenger
Phase: Take-off from: Tenerife-Norte Los Rodeos to: Las Palmas Flightnr.: KL4805

01.29h (Mar.26) [times are in GMT] PanAm Flight 1736 took off from Los Angeles Airport for a flight to Las Palmas via New York. 06.17h PanAm 1736 lands at New York-JFK. 07.42h Flight 1736 takes off after a crew change and refuelling. 09.31h KLM Flight 4805 takes off from Amsterdam for a flight to Las Palmas. 12.30h A bomb explodes in the Las Palmas passenger terminal. Because of warnings of a possible second bomb, the airport was closed. 13.38h KLM 4805 diverts to Tenerife and lands at Los Rodeos Airport at 13.38h. c. 14.00h The KLM passengers are allowed to leave the plane 14.15h The PanAm flight also diverts to Tenerife. c. 15.00h Las Palmas Airport opened to traffic. Because the PanAm passengers remained on aboard it was possible to leave Tenerife at once. The taxiways were congested by other aircraft however (all diverted from Las Palmas). This meant the PanAm crew had to backtrack on Runway 12 for take-off on Runway 30. The entrance to Runway12 however, was blocked by the KLM Boeing. c. 16.15h All KLM passengers (except 1) started boarding the aircraft again and refuelling of the KLM aircraft took place. By refuelling at Tenerife the 16.45h Refuelling of the KLM aircraft was finished. 16.59h Clearance was given by the controller to KLM 4805 to backtrack Runway 12 and make a 180deg. turn. 17.02:08h 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. 17.04:24h PA 1736 passes taxiway C-1. 17.05:22h PA 1736 passes taxiway C-2. 17.05:44h KLM 4805 reported ready for take-off and was given instructions for a Papa beacon departure. 17.06:09h The KLM crew repeated the instructions and added "We are now at take-off". 17.06:11h The brakes were released and KLM 4805 started the take-off roll. 17.06:18h Tenerife tower 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. 17.06:25h Tenerife tower replied: "Papa Alpha 1736 report runway clear.", wereupon the PanAm crew replied: "OK, will report when we're clear". 17.06:32h This caused some concerns with the KLM .......... asking the captain: "Is Source: Flight Safety Digest July 1995(1-10)/Flight Safety Foundation; ICAO Circular 153-AN/56

CVR transcript KLM / PanAm Boeing 747 collision


APP = Tenerife tower
RDO-2 = Pan Am Radio communications (co-pilot)
CAM-1 = Cockpit Area Mike PanAm (captain)
CAM-2 = Cockpit Area Mike PanAm (co-pilot)
CAM-3 = Cockpit Area Mike PanAm (flight engineer)
KLM = KLM Radio Communications
KLM-1 = KLM Cockpit Area Mike (captain)
KLM-2 = KLM Cockpit Area Mike (co-pilot)
KLM-3 = KLM Cockpit Area Mike (flight engineer)

1701:57.0 RDO-2Tenerife the Clipper one seven three six. (1702:00.2)
1702:01.8APP Clipper one seven three six Tenerife.
1702:03.6RDO-2 Ah- We were instructed to contact you and also to taxi down the runway, is that correct? (1702:07.4)
1702:08.4 APPAffirmative, taxi into the runway and -ah leave the runway third, third to your left, (background conversation in the tower).
1702:16.4RDO-2 Third to the left, O.K. (17:02.18.3)
1702:18.4CAM-3 Third he said.
CAM-? Three.
1702:20.6APP -ird one to your left.
1702:21.9CAM-1 I think he said first.
1702:26.4CAM-2 I'll ask him again.
CAM-? * * *
1702:32.2CAM-2 Left turn.
1702:33.1CAM-1 I don't think they have take-off minimums anywhere right now.
1702:39.2 CAM-1 What really happened over there today?
1702:41.6CAM-4 They put a bomb (in) the terminal, Sir, right where the check-in counters are.
1702:46.6 CAM-1 Well we asked them if we could hold and -uh- I guess you got the word, we landed here **
CAM-? * * *
1702:49.8 APP KLMfour eight zero five how many taxiway -ah- did you pass?
1702:55.6 KLM I think we just passed charlie four now.
1702:59.9 APP O.K. ... at the end of the runway make one eighty and report -ah- ready -ah- for ATC clearance (background conversation in the tower).
1703:09.3 CAM-2 The first one is a ninety degree turn.
1703:11.0 CAM-1 Yeah, O.K.
1703:12.1 CAM-2 Must be the third ... I'll ask him again.
1703:14.2 CAM-1 O.K.
1703:16.6 CAM-1 We could probably go in it's ah ...
1703:19.1 CAM-1 You gotta make a ninety degree turn.
1703:21.6 CAM-1 Yeah, uh.
1703:21.6 CAM-2 Ninety degree turn to get around this ... this one down here it's a forty five.
1703:29.3 RDO-2 Would you confirm that you want the clipper one seven three six to turn left at the third intersection? (1703:35.4).
1703:35.1 CAM-1 One, two.
1703:36.4 APP The third one, sir, one; two, three, third, third one (1703:38.3)..
1703:38.3 CAM-? One two (four).
1703:39.0 CAM-1 Good.
1703:40.1 CAM-1 That's what we need right, the third one.
1703:42.9CAM-3 Uno, dos, tres.
1703:44.0CAM-1 Uno, dos, tres.
1703:44.9CAM-3 Tres - uh - si.
1703:47.6CAM-3 We'll make it yet.
1703:47.6APP seven one three six report leaving the runway.
1703:49.1CAM-2 Wing flaps?
1703:50.2CAM-1 Ten, indicate ten, leading edge lights are green.
1703:54.1CAM-? Get that.
1703:55.0RDO-2 Clipper one seven three six (1703:56.4)
1703:56.5CAM-2 Yaw damp and instrument?
1703:58.6CAM-1 Ah- Bob we'll get a left one *
1703:59.3CAM-2 I got a left.
1704:00.6CAM-1 Did you?
1704.00.9CAM-2 And -ah- need a right.
1704:02.6CAM-1 I'll give you a little *
1704:03.8CAM-2 Put a little aileron in this thing.
1704:05.0CAM-1 O.K., here's a left and I'll give you a right one right here.
1704:09.7CAM-1 O.K. right turn right and left yaw.
1704:11.4CAM-2 Left yaw checks.
1704:12.4CAM-1 O.K., here's the rudders.
1704:13.6CAM-1Here's two left, centre, two right centre.
1704:19.6CAM-1Haven't seen any yet!
1704:20.3CAM-2 I haven't either.
1704:21. 7 CAM-1 They're free, the indicators are checked.
1704:24.6CAM-2 There's one.
1704:25.8CAM-1There's one.
1704:26.4CAM-1 That's the ninety degree.
1704:28.5CAM-? O.K.
1704:34.5CAM-? ***
CAM-2 Weight and balance finals?
1704:37.7CAM (Sounds similar to stabilizer trim).(1704:44.8)
1704:37.2CAM-1 We were gonna put that on four and a half
1704:39.8CAM-3 We got four and a half and we weigh five thirty four (sound of stabilizer trim).
1704:44.6CAM-2 Four and a half on the right.
1704:46.8CAM-2 Engineer's taxi check.
1704:48.4CAM-3 Taxi check is complete.
1704:50.5CAM-2 Take-off and departure briefing?
1704:52.1CAM-1 O.K., it'll be standard, we gonna go straight out there till we get thirty five hundred feet then we're gonna make that reversal and go back' out to * fourteen.
1704:58.2APP -m eight seven zero five and clipper one seven ... three six, for your information, the centre line lighting is out of service. (APP transmission is readable but slightly broken.)
1705:05.8KLMI copied that.
1705:07.7RDO-2Clipper one seven three six.
1705:09.6CAM-1We got centre line markings (* only) (could be "don't we) they count the same thing as ... we need eight hundred metres if you don't have that centre line... I read that on the back (of this) just a while ago.
1705:22.0CAM-1That's two.
1705:23.5 CAM-3Yeh, that's forty-five there.
1705:25.7CAM-1 Yeh.
1705:26.5 CAM-2 That's this one right here.
1705:27.2 CAM-1 (Yeh)I know.
1705:28.1 CAM-3O.K.
1705:28.5CAM-3 Next one is almost a forty-five, huh yeh.
1705:30.6CAM-1 But it goes...
1705:32.4CAM-1 Yeh, but it goes ... ahead, I think (it's) gonna put us on (the) taxiway.
1705:35.9CAM-3Yeah, just a little bit yeh.
1705:39.8CAM-? O.K., for sure.
1705:40.0CAM-2 Maybe he, maybe he counts these (are) three.
CAM-? Huh.
1705:44.8 CAM-?I like this.
1705:44.8KLMUh, the KLM ... four eight zero five is now ready for take-off ... uh and we're waiting for our ATC clearance.
1705:53.4APPKLM eight seven * zero five uh you are cleared to the Papa Beacon climb to and maintain flight level nine zero right turn after take-off proceed with heading zero four zero until intercepting the three two five radial from Las Palmas VOR. (1706:08.2)
1706:09.6 KLM Ah roger, sir, we're cleared to the Papa Beacon flight level nine zero, right turn out zero four zero until intercepting the three two five and we're now (at take-off). (1706:17.9)
ca. 1706:13 KLM-1 We gaan. (We're going)
1706:18.19 APP OK.
1706:19.3 RDO No .. eh.
1706:20.08 APP Stand by for take-off, I will call you.
1706:20.3 RDO And we're still taxiing down the runway, the clipper one seven three six.
1706:19.39 - 1706:23.19 RDO and APP communications caused a shrill noise in KLM cockpit - messages not heard by KLM crew.
1706:25.6 APP Roger alpha one seven three six report when runway clear
1706:29.6 RDO OK, we'll report when we're clear.
APP Thank you
1706:32.43 KLM-3 Is hij er niet af dan? {Is he not clear then?}
1706:34.1 KLM-1 Wat zeg je? {What do you say?}
1706:34.15 KLM-? Yup.
1706:34.7 KLM-3 Is hij er niet af, die Pan American? {Is he not clear that Pan American?}
1706:35.7 KLM-1 Jawel. {Oh yes. - emphatic}
1706:40 PanAm captain sees landinglights of KLM Boeing at approx. 700m
1706:44 PH-BUF started rotation
1706:47.44 KLM-1 [Scream]
1706:50 collision

Source: ICAO Circular 153-AN/56 (p.22-68)

Additional Information:

The PanAm plane was captained by veteran pilot Victor Grubbs. The KLM charter plane was captained by KLM's chief training pilot for 747's Jacob van Zanten, who had been flying with KLM for over 25 years - he had not flown recently but had instead been instructing. Indeed his co-pilot was a former pupil of his.

234 passengers and 14 crew members aboard the LKM plane died. 335 of those aboard the PamAm jet died although miraculously 61 PanAm passengers and crew survived. This gives a total of 583 fatalities.

The investigation into the tragedy was a joint one involving the Spanish, the NSTB, Pan-Am, Boeing the engine manufacturer, KLM and the Dutch government.