TAP Flight 425

TAP Flight 425 was a regular flight from Brussels, Belgium, to Santa Catarina Airport (informally known as Funchal Airport or Madeira Airport; now the Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport), Portugal, with an intermediate scheduled stop in Lisbon. On November 19, 1977, the Boeing 727 operating the service overran the airport's runway before crashing onto the nearby beach and exploding, killing 131 of the 164 people on board.[1][2]

Transportes Aéreos Portugueses Flight 425
TAP Portugal Boeing 727-282Adv CS-TBR.jpg
CS-TBR, the aircraft involved in the accident, seen at Düsseldorf Airport, 3 months prior to the crash
DateNovember 19, 1977
SummaryRunway overrun
SiteMadeira International Airport, Funchal, Portugal
32°41′17″N 16°47′8″W / 32.68806°N 16.78556°W / 32.68806; -16.78556Coordinates: 32°41′17″N 16°47′8″W / 32.68806°N 16.78556°W / 32.68806; -16.78556
Aircraft typeBoeing 727-282 Advanced
Aircraft nameSacadura Cabral
OperatorTransportes Aéreos Portugueses
IATA flight No.TP425
ICAO flight No.TAP425
Call signTAP 425
Flight originBrussels Airport, Brussels, Belgium
StopoverLisbon Portela Airport, Portugal
DestinationMadeira International Airport, Funchal, Portugal

Aircraft and crewEdit

The aircraft operating flight TP-425 was a Boeing 727-282 Advanced registration CS-TBR named after the Portuguese aviation pioneer Sacadura Cabral. Its manufacturer serial number was 20972/1096 and it was delivered to TAP on 21 January 1975. It was powered by 3 Pratt & Whitney JT8D-17 turbofan engines which had a maximum thrust of 16,000 pounds each. The aircraft had completed a B check on 21 September 1977, and at the time of the accident had accumulated 6,154 flying hours in 5,204 cycles.[3]: 37–38 

The crew consisted of Captain João Lontrão, First officer Miguel Guimarães Leal, and Flight engineer Gualdino Pinto, as well as five flight attendants. There were 156 passengers on board.[3]: 8, 34 


On 19 November 1977, the aircraft operated flight TP-420 from Lisbon to Brussels, Belgium, and then TP-425 from Brussels to Funchal with a stopover in Lisbon. Flight 420 and the first leg of Flight 425 were completed without any issues reported. In Lisbon, the crew received a weather report of Funchal. According to the forecast, severe weather was expected on the route with a chance of thunderstorm cumulus and torrential rain, but was unlikely to affect the flight.[3]: 3 

At 7:50 pm flight 425 left the gate, and took off from runway 03 of Lisbon airport at 7:55.[3]: 4 

At the time of the accident, the then-Santa Catarina International Airport's runway was 1,600 m (5,250 ft) long, which made landing extremely difficult.

At 9:05 pm, on the approach to Madeira, the crew of flight 425 requested permission to descend. The controller gave permission to descend to flight level 50 (5 thousand feet or 1524 meters) at a pressure of 1013.2 mbar. At 9:05:50, the crew reported on the beginning of the descent to tier 50 towards Porto Santo, and received instructions to switch to 118.1 MHz to communicate with Funchal control. At 9:17 the crew contacted the air traffic control in Funchal and reported on the occupation of flight level 50 and the estimated achievement of the MAD radio beacon in 5 minutes. In response, the controller gave permission to descend to a height of 3,500 feet on QNH 1013 and reported that the landing would be on runway 06. The controller then transmitted the weather report: calm wind on runway 06, wind 14 knots direction 220 at nearby Rosário, temperature 19 °C (66 °F), visibility 4–5 kilometres (2.5–3.1 mi; 2.2–2.7 nmi). The crew acknowledged the transmission. According to the actual weather forecast at 8:50, at the Funchal airport, near the tower, the wind was blowing at a speed of 06 knots (11 km/h) in the area of the runway - a heading of 200, visibility 5 kilometres (3.1 mi; 2.7 nmi), cloudiness 7/8, rain showers, airfield pressure at runway 24: 1006 mbar, at runway 06: 1008 mbar, temperature 18–19 °C (64–66 °F).[3]: 4 

At 9:23:13 the crew reported on the passage of the MAD beacon at a height of 1,700 feet and a heading of 215, while not having visual contact with the ground. Following the course of 200 and descending 980 feet, at 21:26:33 from flight TP-425 they reported that there was no visual observation of the runway and a missed approach.[3]: 5 

After two unsuccessful attempts to land the aircraft, the crew decided to make one last try to land the plane, before they would have to make the decision to divert to the Gran Canaria Airport in the Canary Islands.[3][additional citation(s) needed]

On the third landing attempt, captain Lontrão chose runway 24. At 9:43:52, at an altitude of 1,800 feet (550 m) the aircraft was reported to be flying at a rate of 205 knots (380 km/h; 236 mph), and at 9:44:57 the controller asked the crew to see if they had the aircraft's landing lights on. The crew said that the landing lights were on. At 9:45:02 the crew reported on the passage of the airport's beacon and reported the runway in sight. At 9:46:48, when turning right on a 250° heading, captain Lontrão called for the landing checklist.[3]: 5 

At 9:47:21 from the tower of the airport they reported the wind on runway 24 and asked if the crew would proceed with the landing. The crew said that they would continue. The controller subsequently cleared flight 425 to land. From a height of 400 feet (120 m) at a speed of 150 knots (280 km/h; 170 mph), the plane began to descend. While on final approach to runway 24 in heavy rain, strong winds and poor visibility, the aircraft touched down 2,000 feet (610 m) past the threshold, and started hydroplaning. With just about 3,000 feet (910 m) of runway left, the crew tried desperately to stop, applying maximum reverse thrust and brakes, but the aircraft slid off the runway with a ground speed of approximately 43 knots (80 km/h; 49 mph) and plunged over a 200-foot (61 m) steep bank hitting a nearby bridge and crashing on the beach; splitting in two pieces and bursting into flames.[3]: 6–7 

Of the 164 people aboard (156 passengers and eight crew), 131 were killed (125 passengers and 6 crew),[4] making it the deadliest airplane accident in Portugal to that point.[5] As of 2023, it is the second deadliest airplane accident in Portugal, after Independent Air Flight 1851.[6][7] It remains TAP Portugal's only fatal accident since the beginning of its flight operations in 1946.[8]


According to the findings of the investigation, the crew was qualified for the flight. The report stated that the aircraft was in good condition after leaving the runway up until it made impact with the bridge. The report concluded that the flight crew violated the approach procedure, with the aircraft touching down 2,060 feet (630 m) from the beginning of the runway, which is 1,060 feet (320 m) farther than normal, and the speed was 148.2 knots (274.5 km/h; 170.5 mph), that is, 19.2 knots (35.6 km/h; 22.1 mph) higher than recommended. It was also noted that there were an insufficient number of lights of the ILS, which made it difficult to perform an ILS approach.[3]: 29  Difficult weather conditions were mentioned as the immediate causes of the accident, due to aquaplaning on the runway, as well as an overshoot landing speed of 19 knots.[3]: 30  The investigation recommended Funchal Airport to increase the level of meteorological observations.[3]: 31 [9]


After the accident occurred, TAP stopped flying the Boeing 727-200 to Madeira, and started flying only the 727-100, which was 20 feet (6.1 m) shorter and took 60 fewer passengers.[10]

The crash prompted officials to explore ways of extending the short runway. Because of the height of the runway relative to the beach below, an extension was very difficult and very expensive to perform.[10] Between 1983 and 1986,[11] a 200-metre (660 ft) extension was built; 14 years later,[12] the runway was again extended. Following the 2000 extension, the runway of what is now the Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport measures 2,781 metres (9,124 ft) long and is capable of handling wide-body commercial jets like the Boeing 747 or the Airbus A340.[13][14]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "B3A Aircraft Accidents Archives". Archived from the original on 2015-12-10. Retrieved 2014-06-21.
  2. ^ "Desastre aéreo na Madeira: 123 mortos" [Air disaster in Madeira: 123 dead]. Acervo Digital - Folha de S.Paulo (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved 2019-10-17.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Final accident report" (in Portuguese). DGAC. Retrieved 2019-06-25.
  4. ^ "Accident Database: Accident Synopsis 11191977®=CS-TBR". Airdisaster.com. 2011-06-07. Archived from the original on 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2008-05-07.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  5. ^ Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 727-282 CS-TBR Funchal Airport (FNC)". aviation-safety.net. Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 2019-10-17.
  6. ^ Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 707-331B N7231T Santa Maria-Vila do Porto Airport, Azores (SMA)". aviation-safety.net. Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 2019-10-17.
  7. ^ Ranter, Harro. "Portugal air safety profile". aviation-safety.net. Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 2021-01-03.
  8. ^ "TAP Air Portugal plane crashes". www.airsafe.com. Retrieved 2019-04-08.
  9. ^ Airplane Flying Handbook - Approaches and Landings (PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. pp. 6–7.
  10. ^ a b Rádio e Televisão de Portugal Documentary TP425 - O voo interminável [TP425 - The Endless Flight] on YouTube (aired November 14th 2007, in Portuguese)]
  11. ^ "Aeroporto da Madeira (Funchal) - 1983 a 1986" [Madeira Airport (Funchal) - 1983 to 1986]. aeroportosdamadeira.pt (in Portuguese). Archived from the original on September 3, 2011. Retrieved 2010-02-20.
  12. ^ "Aeroporto da Madeira (Funchal) - 2000" [Madeira Airport (Funchal) - 2000]. aeroportosdamadeira.pt (in Portuguese). Archived from the original on September 3, 2011. Retrieved 2008-05-07.
  13. ^ "História" [History] (in Portuguese). Aeroporto da Madeira. 2012. Archived from the original on 2014-05-07. Retrieved 2013-11-25.
  14. ^ "Madeira Airport amongst world's 'Top-10 most stunning aerial approaches'". www.theportugalnews.com. Archived from the original on 2019-10-17. Retrieved 2019-10-17.

External linksEdit