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Aviation accident – TAP Portugal Flight 425

TAP Air Portugal Flight 425, tail number CS-TBR, was a Boeing 727 aircraft named Sacadura Cabral en route from Brussels, Belgium to Funchal Airport, Portugal, with an intermediate scheduled stop in Lisbon, Portugal on November 19, 1977.

Shortly before 9:48pm on that Saturday evening, after 13 hours and 15 minutes of service time, the tired crew of the 727 was trying to land the airplane on the difficult Madeira airport runway, which at the time was 1600 meters (5,250 feet) long. After two unsuccessful attempts to land the aircraft, the Captain João Lontrão and Co-pilot Miguel Guimarães Leal 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.

While on final approach to runway 24 in heavy rain, strong winds and poor visibility, the aircraft touched down 2000 feet past the threshold, and started hydroplaning. With just about 3000 feet 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 and plunged over a 200 feet steep bank hitting a nearby bridge and crashing on the beach; splitting in two pieces and bursting into flames.

Of the 164 people aboard (156 passengers and 8 crew), 131 were killed (125 passengers and 6 crew), making it the deadliest airplane accident in Portugal to that point.

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