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The Tenerife crash - March 27th, 1977

The controller was struck by a sudden doubt. He reminded the KLM captain that he had not been cleared for take-off.

17 :06 :20 (Tenerife control tower) : Stand by for take-off, I will call you.

17 :06 :20 (PanAm first officer) : And we're still taxiing down the runway, the clipper one seven three six.

Paths of both 747
Paths of both 747

The last two messages were radioed simultaneously and were therefore heard as a long four-second high-pitched sound. The KLM 747 speed increased. Some 1,500 meters further on, the PanAm 747 was still taxiing down the runway.

17 :06 :25 (Tenerife control tower to the PanAm 747) - Roger alpha one seven three six report when runway clear

17 :06 :29 (PanAm first officer) - OK, we'll report when we're clear

17 :06 :30 (Tenerife control tower) - Thank you

The KLM captain did not react. He may have misunderstood and thought that the PanAm 747 had just cleared the runway.

17 :06 :32 (KLM first officer) – Is hij er niet af dan? {Is he not clear then?}

17 :06 :34 (KLM captain) – Wat zeg je? {What do you say?}

17 :06 :35 (KLM first officer) – EstIs hij er niet af, die Pan American? {Is he not clear that Pan American?}

17 :06 :36 (Angry KLM captain) – Jawel. {Oh yes. - Emphatic}

Areas where debris were found
Areas where debris were found

Meanwhile, the PanAm jumbo jet reached the fourth taxiway. Suddenly, the PanAm captain spotted the landing lights of the KLM Boeing approximatively 700 meters away in the fog.

17 :06 :41 (PanAm captain) – (screaming) He’s coming… look… this son of b**** is coming

17 :06 :41 (PanAm first officer) - (screaming)