A terrorist incident at Gran Canaria Airport had caused many flights to be diverted to Los Rodeos, including the two accident aircraft. The airport quickly became congested with parked aircraft blocking the only taxiway and forcing departing aircraft to taxi on the runway instead. Patches of thick fog were also drifting across the airfield, preventing aircraft and control tower from seeing each other.
The collision occurred when KLM 4805 initiated its takeoff run while Pan Am 1736, shrouded in fog, was still on the runway and about to turn off onto the taxiway. The impact and ensuing fire killed everyone on board the KLM jet and most of the occupants of the Pan Am, leaving only 61 survivors from the aircraft's front section
The subsequent investigation by Spanish authorities concluded that the primary cause of the accident was the KLM captain's decision to take off in the mistaken belief that a takeoff clearance from air traffic control (ATC) had been issued.
Dutch investigators placed a greater emphasis on mutual misunderstanding in radio communications between the KLM crew and ATCbut ultimately, KLM admitted their crew was responsible for the accident and the airline agreed to financially compensate the victims' relatives.
The disaster had a lasting influence on the industry. An increased emphasis was placed on the importance of using standardized phraseology in radio communications. Cockpit procedures were also reviewed, contributing to the establishment of crew resource management as a fundamental part of airline pilots' training. @aviation_sva
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