Can a disaster such as the tenerife happen again?
- bevl78Lv 41 decade agoFavorite Answer
Sounds like Wolf has a problem! Ground radar is in use at most large airports now (Tenerife was 1977!) and trains DO still collide - more frequently than airliners!
The simple answer is yes, it could happen again. No human is perfect and no computer can allow for all possible scenarios and variables. However we do learn from mistakes and implement measures to reduce the risk of the same thing happening in the future. Tenerife was an extreme example - it resulted from the following factors which are EXTREMELY unlikely to repeat:
1)Original destination closed due to terrorist bomb.
2) After 3 hr delay, KLM flight then decides to refuel (not required, they had more than enough)
3) 25 minute additional delay caused by refueling, during that time fog rolls in and reduces visibility to almost zero
4) Due to back up on taxiways from traffic diverted form bomb-hit original destination, aircraft have to taxi back on the runway, not the taxiway
5) Missunderstanding of clearance by KLM flight - they were not cleared for take-off
6) This was caught by the Pan-Am crew who transmitted a warning to the control tower that they were still on the runway. Unfortunately KLM also transmitted at the same time and the calls blocked each other so no-one heard them.
All in all a horrible chain of events! Crew training and airport procedures have been greatly improved in the intervening years and although technically it is still possible, it is highly unlikely.
You are more likely to be killed driving to the airport so don't worry about it.Source(s): Professional pilot
- Wolf HarperLv 61 decade ago
Heck yes, because they still use human brains for anticollision and voice authorization to control aircraft movements.
Contrast to the railroads. Interlocked route control, in place for ONE HUNDRED YEARS, make it mechanically impossible for trains to be assigned contrary routes. The engineer has to obey the signal indication (color) but they mess up so infrequently they don't bother putting automatic stop on most lines.
And even "dark territory", thinly used lines which don't justify interlocking, they're going to GPS+computer+radio systems to manage and interlock train movements.
Earth to airplanes. HELLO!
They could have prevented Tenerife with a trivial system of lighting signals on the runways. Controlled from the tower, it would display which direction and activity the runway was cleared for. Not cleared; taxiing; landing; or takeoff. KLM would've seen colors for "Not cleared" or "Taxiing", and called the tower to find out why. This could have also prevented the Blue Grass Airport accident last year, because even something this simple would cause a culture shift. No pilot would take off on a runway that wasn't signaled for takeoff.
They are only now starting to try stuff like that.
Pavement loops or a simple radar could tell if a runway was occupied by an aircraft, so more sophisticated interlocking would start to be possible.
Some of this stuff is EASY.
Nowadays with computers and GPS (and, heck, with radar), lots more is possible.
Why not the airlines? Cheapness alone, maybe - but my guess is it's bureaucratic complexity... airlines don't own the airports like railroads own the tracks. When you do, basic safety stuff like signals is a no-brainer.
- Arthur OLv 51 decade ago
Sure, as long as the human factor, aircrews and ground controllers, are part of the formula. Introduce weather and equipment failures into the mix and the outcome will be another disaster.
- dapixelatorLv 61 decade ago
Certainly possible, but I think not as likely. Tenerife was due to human error not equipment.
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- Jerry LLv 61 decade ago
Any aircraft accident is caused by multiple failures, not just any one failure. The good thing is that those failures are learned from and procedures are put into place to prevent them. Anything could happen, but with the lessons learned from that accident they are much much less likely to happen now.