Lao Airlines Flight 301
RDPL-34233, the aircraft involved in the accident seen at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in July 2013
|Date||16 October 2013|
|Summary||Controlled flight into terrain due to Pilot error|
Done Kho Island, Mekong River, Pakse, Laos |
|Aircraft type||ATR 72–600|
|IATA flight No.||QV301|
|ICAO flight No.||LAO301|
|Call sign||LAO 301|
|Flight origin||Wattay International Airport, Vientiane, Laos|
|Destination||Pakse International Airport, Laos|
Lao Airlines Flight 301 was a scheduled domestic passenger flight from Vientiane to Pakse, Laos. On 16 October 2013, the ATR 72–600 aircraft operating the flight crashed into the Mekong River in Pakse, killing all 49 people on board. The accident, the first involving an ATR 72–600, was the deadliest ever to occur on Laotian soil and the third-deadliest involving an ATR 72 behind Aero Caribbean Flight 883 and American Eagle Flight 4184, which both killed 68. It was also the first fatal accident for Lao Airlines since 2000. The investigation report suggests pilot error as the probable cause. The accident was the second-deadliest aviation incident in 2013, behind Tatarstan Airlines Flight 363.
The aircraft was operating a scheduled domestic passenger flight from Wattay International Airport, Vientiane to Pakse International Airport, Pakse, Laos. The flight departed from Vientiane at 14:45 local time (07:45 UTC) and crashed into the Mekong River at 15:55 local time (08:55 UTC) while approaching Pakse for the second time, less than 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) from the airport. The aircraft had already gone around once due to poor weather and was in the downwind leg for another approach when it crashed into a riverbank and was deflected into the nearby river.
There were five crew and 44 passengers on board, all of whom are presumed to have died upon impact. Marks on the ground indicated that the aircraft landed heavily on the ground before entering the Mekong. The weather was reported to be poor at the time of the accident due to the remnants of Typhoon Nari affecting southern Laos.
Recovery of the victims and wreckage was hampered by the fast-flowing, deep waters of the Mekong. To assist with the search, 50 divers from Thailand were brought in. Eighteen of the victims had been recovered as of 18 October. By 23 October 44 of the 49 victims had been recovered. Identification had been confirmed for 27 of them. Some of the victims were found 19 kilometres (12 mi) downstream of the crash site.
The Laotian Department of Civil Aviation opened an investigation into the accident. The aircraft's manufacturer ATR and the French Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation Civile (BEA) are assisting them. The BEA sent four investigators to Laos.
The wreckage of the aircraft was lifted from the Mekong on 22 October 2013. More than two weeks after the accident, on 31 October 2013, the Cockpit Voice Recorder was successfully recovered from the Mekong. The Flight Data Recorder was recovered two days later on 2 November.
According to the official investigation report, released on 28 November 2014, the probable cause of the accident was the flight crew's failure to execute properly the published missed approach procedure, which resulted in the aircraft flying into terrain. A sudden change of weather conditions and an improperly executed published instrument approach necessitated the go-around. The recordings show that the flight crew initiated a right turn according to the lateral missed approach trajectory without succeeding in reaching the vertical trajectory. Specifically, the flight crew did not follow the vertical profile of missed approach as the missed approach altitude was set at 600 ft and the aircraft system went into altitude capture mode. When the flight crew realized that the altitude was too low, the PF over-reacted, which led to a high pitch attitude of 33°. It then struck trees. The fuselage collided with the bank and plunged into the river.
Passengers and crew
The victims were of eleven nationalities. Of the 44 passengers on board, 16 were Laotian, as were four of the five crew. The pilot was a Cambodian national. The remaining casualties consisted of seven French nationals, six Australians, five Thais, three South Koreans, three Vietnamese, and one each from China, Taiwan, Malaysia and the United States. At least two children, both from Australia, were among the dead. Early reports that a Canadian was on board were incorrect, since it was later determined that the individual was a Vietnamese national.
|Korea, Republic of||3||3|
The pilots were:
- Captain Yong Som (57), he had logged 5,600 flying hours, of which 3,200 were on the ATR-72.
- First Officer Soulisack Houvanthong (22), he had logged around 400 hours of flying experience.
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