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Korean Air Lines 084

Accident Case Study

The bottom line on top: the captain got lost while taxiing for takeoff and decided to takeoff anyway. He ended up plowing into another airplane.

A quote from the captain during an NTSB interview: "I felt unsure that the aircraft was on the correct runway. I looked for identifying markings, but could not see any. I discussed this with my copilot who felt sure that we were on the correct runway. After 3-4 minutes of discussion, I considered taking runway 6R because of my uncertainty. However the runway size and lighting appeared to be correct, so I decided to take off.



Photo: HL 7339, from Flickr.

Accident Report

  • 23 DEC 1983
  • Time: 14:60 AST
  • Type: McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30
  • Operator: Korean Air Lines - KAL
  • Registration: HL7339
  • Crew: Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 3
  • Passengers: Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 0
  • Total: Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 3
  • Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
  • Location: Anchorage International Airport, AK (ANC) (United States of America)
  • Phase: Takeoff (TOF)
  • Nature: Cargo
  • Departure airport: Anchorage International Airport, AK (ANC/PANC), United States of America
  • Destination airport: Los Angeles International Airport, CA (LAX/KLAX), United States of America


While taxiing out in fog, the KAL crew became disoriented and ended up on the wrong runway. During the takeoff run, the aircraft collided head-on with South Central Air Flight 59, a Piper PA-31 which was taking off from runway 06L-24R for a flight to Kenai. The 9 occupants of N35206 were injured. The DC-10 overran the runway by 1434 feet and came to rest 40 feet right of the extended centreline.



Figure: Plan View of Anchorage International Airport, from: NTSB Report, Figure 1.

"The failure of the pilot of Korean Air Lines Flight 084 to follow accepted procedures during taxi, which caused him to become disoriented while selecting the runway; the failure of the pilot to use the compass to confirm his position; and the decision of the pilot to take off when he was unsure that the aircraft was positioned on the correct runway. Contributing to the accident was the fog, which reduced visibility to a point that the pilot could not ascertain his position visually and the control tower personnel could not assist the pilot. Also contributing to the accident was a lack of legible taxiway and runway signs at several intersections passed by Flight 084 while it was taxiing."

See Also:

Situational Awareness


Aviation Safety Network

NTSB Aircraft Accident Report, AAR-84/10, Korean Air Lines, McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30, HL7329, Southcentral Air Piper PA-31-350, N35206, Anchorage, Alaska, December 23, 1983

Revision: 20130707