On February 19, 1989, a Boeing 747-249F operating as Flying Tiger Flight 66 was flying an international cargo flight from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The aircraft impacted terrain 12 miles from the airport, resulting in 4 fatalities.
The aircraft was assigned an non-directional beacon (NDB) approach to Runway 33 at Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport, Kuala Lumpur, after having flown 30 minutes from Singapore Changi Airport.[1] In descent, the flight was cleared to “Kayell” with a morse code of “KL” of which four separate points on the ground were commonly called by Malaysian ATC albeit with different frequencies. Two separate radio beacons were identically coded “KL” as well as the VOR abbreviation (Kuala Lumpur shortened to “KL”) and the airport was also sometimes referred to as “KL” by local ATC (instead of the full “Kuala Lumpur”). The crew was unsure to which point they were cleared, and the cockpit voice recorder revealed that the crew argued about which radios should be set to which frequencies and which approach was actually going to be conducted. (Even in the last few moments of the flight, the captain referenced the ILS approach for runway 33 which was notamed as inop on the flight release and the ATIS, additionally the crew was told by ATC that the ILS approach was not available.)
ATC radioed to the flight, “Tiger 66, descend two four zero zero [2,400 ft]. Cleared for NDB approach runway three three.” The captain of Tiger 66, who heard “descend to four zero zero” replied with, “Okay, four zero zero” (meaning 400 ft above sea level, which was 2,000 ft too low). The proper radio call from ATC, instead of “descend two four zero zero”, should have been “descend and maintain two thousand four hundred feet”. The captain read back “okay, four zero zero” where the proper read back should have been “Roger, descend and maintain four-hundred feet”. The Cockpit voice recorder[2] also revealed several communication errors made by the flight crew prior to this miscommunication and a revealed general casual nature of the Captain, who was the pilot-not-flying on this particular leg of the trip.
Numerous clear warnings were given by the on-board Ground Proximity Warning System all were ignored entirely by the crew, and the aircraft impacted a hillside 437 ft above sea level, killing all four people on board; two pilots, a flight engineer and an aircraft mechanic. The subsequent fire burned for two days[3].
The First Officer had complained that he did not have an approach plate in front of him and hadn’t seen the approach. Additionally, the FO, who was the pilot flying at the time, expressed concern about conducting the NDB approach and indicated a preference for the ILS for runway 15. However, the FO was not assertive and no further action was taken. The Captain dismissed his concern saying he was familiar with the airport and the approaches. The second officer was 70 years old and used a magnifying glass to see.[citation needed] A contributing factor to this accident was the non-ICAO International Civil Aviation Organization phraseology used by Kuala Lumpur air traffic control and the Captain of the aircraft. This breakdown of communication contributed to the crew misinterpreting the instructions given. However, this notorious controlled-flight-into-terrain accident ultimately resulted from a crew failure to adhere to the instrument approach procedure, poor crew resource management and poor situational awareness.[1]
This accident caused the creation of the GPWS escape maneuver which all airlines now use[citation needed]. It further stressed the need for increased awareness and training of crew resource management techniques and standard operating procedures. This accident is used as an example of ‘what not to do’ by flight training organizations such as FlightSafety International. The FAA video production[4] using the original CVR is still used to study the events and how to improve current techinques. Much of this information is derived from that video.

28 COMMENTS

  1. told ILS is unavailable, bit later someone in the cockpit says "screw this let's go around and get an ILS approach"
    minute later they're talking about getting ILS set again.. Damn they must have been tired

  2. GPWS should have a new callout that says "I said FUCKING PULL UP! What is up with your masochism! If you don't listen to the GPWS, you'll die,"

    FAA and NTSB, take notes.

  3. ATC should use the "K" code in that instance "descend TWO four hundred
    feet" is right 2400 also "descend TOO four hundred feet" it is also
    right 400 feet, matter of habit on the other hand "descend 2K4 " would
    have been a life saver, other example
    claim 10K descend 3K5 claim 3K also they could modify, the decimal
    point (on the display that uses it) with a capital K and there would not
    be any confusion and be very easy to see instead of a "." hard to see,
    is like me asking you "How much is half of two plus two" automatically
    you say TWO, Habit, YOU'RE WRONG it is THREE, you work it out. What can
    you say, these morons still allow you to import HI capacity backup
    batteries from china in a NON pressurize cargo bay I am waiting for a fire at any time

  4. The Pilot CA was cleared to fly to 2,400 but he set it to 400.  When FO was busily concerned about doing the ILS checks and asked how they'd find the airstrip to land, he didn't see the 2k difference error.  And CA didn't seem concerned at all nor on top of his game.  Hence they all tragically died at 437 feet MSL and 1 mile from their landing strip.

  5. The pic at the end of the video is the port wing of Pan Am Flight 1736 after KLM Flight 4805 collided with it on Tenerife March 27, 1977, it's not Flight 66.

  6. When the first pull up warning sounded neither pilots took any notice nor or sharing any concerns. Perhaps it took any another seconds for impact. Pull up means retract landing gears and flaps pitch your nose and pull up AT ONCE. Which part of PULL UP did the crew did not understand?

  7. in these kinds of situations , always keep the altitude higher than usual. it happenned to me once in toronto where i have had half a mile late landing to avoid stalling

  8. Frank Haplin 59, The other crew members were identified as: First Officer Jack Robinson of Tucson, Ariz., a veteran of 21 years with the company; Second Officer Ronald Penton of Burlingame, who had flown for 32 years, and maintenance engineer Leonard Sulewski of White House Station, N.J., who had been with the company for 24 years

  9. I can't believe the pilot Frank Haplin asked if the ILS was set? Why would he do that? BTW it was a little after 6 am when the plane crashed.

  10. at least they didnt suffer….they ignored the pull up warning…i hear that on a lot of crash taped..why is that?  does it go off a lot and u just ignore it?  they did get a pull up warning…i wonder if they had pulled up after the first warning would they have cleared the mountain or was it to late?

  11. WHOOP WHOOP Pull Up!
    WHOOP WHOOP Pull Up!
    WHOOP WHOOP Pull Up!
    8000 meters visibility, GPWS asking for pull up, do you still think it is a fake alarm if you still can't see the approach plate? 

    Another question is they are on NDB approach on runway 33 right? Why the Captain still asking FO stupid question for getting the ILS set. They already know they are unsure and hesitating but still approach.

  12. read back clearance is wrong! descend to 2400ft not 400ft you idiots! and you got yourself killed. and why the hell would you do an NDB when the ILS is available for 15. lazy cunts

  13. The crew most likely ignored the warning because of the mountainous terrain around them…which can sometimes give false warnings of the impeding ground that the aircraft is slightly above. CFITs are almost always caused by pilot error(jal123 being an exception), this crew seemed to be preoccupied on the approach and didnt see the mountain due to weather most likely…thats what i saw..

  14. For 30 seconds they were told to pull up……. 7 times they were instructed to pull up……. Jesus Christ what is wrong with these people? Duh….. I'm at 100ft….crash!!!!

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