Dan-Air Flight 1008
|Date||25 April 1980|
|Summary||Controlled flight into terrain due to pilot error and ATC error|
|Site||near Los Rodeos Airport, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain |
|Aircraft type||Boeing 727-46|
|Operator||Dan-Air Services Ltd|
|Flight origin||Manchester Airport, United Kingdom|
|Destination||Los Rodeos Airport, Tenerife, Canary Islands|
Dan-Air Flight 1008 was a fatal accident involving a Boeing 727-46 jet aircraft operated by Dan Air Services Limited on a non-scheduled international passenger service from Manchester to Tenerife. The crash, which occurred on 25 April 1980 in a forest on Tenerife's mount La Esperanza while the aircraft's flight deck crew wrongly executed an unpublished holding pattern in an area of very high ground, resulted in the aircraft's destruction and the deaths of all 146 on board (138 passengers and eight crew).(p4) Flight 1008 was Dan-Air's second major accident in 10 years and the worst accident killing fare-paying passengers in the airline's entire history.
Aircraft history and crew information
The aircraft, operated by Dan Air Services Ltd, was a Boeing 727-46 (construction/manufacturer's serial number: 19279, line number: 288, registration G-BDAN) that had its first flight in 1966. Dan-Air obtained the aircraft in August 1974.
The captain and pilot in command was 50-year-old Arthur John Whelan, who had flown to Tenerife North Airport 58 times previously. He had 15,299 flight hours, including 1,912 hours on the Boeing 727. The first officer was 33-year-old Michael John Firth, who had flown to Tenerife North Airport nine times previously. He had 3,492 flight hours, including 618 hours on the Boeing 727. The flight engineer was 33-year-old Raymond John Carey, who had never flown to Tenerife North Airport before. He had 3,340 hours, though his experience on the Boeing 727 is not stated in the report.(p4–6)
Flight 1008 was a charter flight from Manchester Airport, United Kingdom to Tenerife North Airport, Canary Islands, Spain. The flight was 14 nautical miles (26 km; 16 mi) from VOR/DME beacon 'TFN' when it was cleared onward to radio beacon 'FP' for an approach to runway 12 after it had reached 'TFN'. Initially at flight level (FL) 110, Dan-Air 1008 was then cleared to descend to FL 60. The crew reported overhead 'TFN' and was requested to join a non-standard holding pattern over the 'FP' beacon. This holding pattern was not a published procedure and the crew did not have a chart for it, but the instruction was accepted. In fact, the aircraft did not pass over 'FP' but flew to the south of the beacon and called "entering the hold". About a minute later, they were cleared to descend to 5,000 feet (1,500 m).
Although the pilot in command had said he was entering the hold according to the Spanish air traffic controller's instructions, he actually turned the aircraft to the left towards the southeast into an area of high ground, where the minimum safe altitude was 14,500 feet (4,400 m). When during the aircraft's descent towards 5,000 feet (1,500 m) the Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS) activated, the crew reacted quickly and initiated a climb. With the engines on full power, the aircraft entered a steep turn to the right and struck mount La Esperanza at 13:21:15 local time. The aircraft was flying in cloud when it struck the mountain.(p1) The impact resulted in the aircraft's complete disintegration, killing everyone on board and leaving a debris trail 350 m (1,150 ft) long.(pp13–15)
Accident investigation and cause
The official (Spanish) investigation concluded that the cause of the accident was that the pilot in command, without taking account of the altitude at which he was flying, took the aircraft into an area of high terrain and thereby failed to maintain a safe height above the terrain. A British addendum to the report found that tardy and ambiguous directions from air traffic control regarding the unpublished hold directly contributed to the disorientation of the aircraft commander.(p4)(p30) The addendum also found that the unpublished track onto which the aircraft was directed required tight turns to be flown. These were practically unflyable, making entry into the region of high ground inevitable for an aircraft flying this track, even without the navigational errors made by Dan-Air 1008.(p31) Further, the addendum found that the directed altitude of 5,000 feet (1,500 m) was inadequate for this holding pattern, and that the minimum altitude for entry into the holding pattern should have been 8,000 feet (2,400 m) (with a minimum altitude of 7,000 feet (2,100 m) for the pattern itself), had a minimum safe altitude calculation been performed ahead of time by a competent authority. The addendum concluded that the accident would not have occurred if the aircraft had not been cleared below 7,000 feet (2,100 m).(p30)
Memorial in Southern Cemetery, Manchester
A memorial in Southern Cemetery, Manchester commemorates the victims of the disaster, whose names are inscribed on a series of slate tablets within a small grassed enclosure. There also exists a garden of remembrance aside of All Saints Church in Taoro Parque (Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife), as passengers of the descended flight were members of the Anglican Parish there.
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- Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 727-46 G-BDAN Esperanzo Forest". aviation-safety.net. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
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- Appendices of English version (Archive)
- Original Spanish version available on request from the Civil Aviation Accident and Incident Investigation Commission
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- Aviation Safety Network
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- Airline Profile: Number Forty-Three in the Series – Dan-Air, Flight International, 31 May 1973, p. 839
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- Dan-Air Boeing 727-46 G-BDAN at Manchester Airport on 5 April 1980 (photo)