Lao Airlines Flight 301

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Lao Airlines Flight 301
RDPL-34233 (ATR 72-600) from Lao Airlines (9786869653) (cropped).jpg
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
Site Done Kho Island, Mekong River, Pakse, Laos
15°09′06″N 105°43′59″E / 15.15167°N 105.73306°E / 15.15167; 105.73306Coordinates: 15°09′06″N 105°43′59″E / 15.15167°N 105.73306°E / 15.15167; 105.73306
Aircraft type ATR 72–600
Operator Lao Airlines
IATA flight No. QV301
ICAO flight No. LAO301
Call sign LAO 301
Registration RDPL-34233
Flight origin Wattay International Airport, Vientiane, Laos
Destination Pakse International Airport, Laos
Passengers 44
Crew 5
Fatalities 49 (all)
Survivors 0
Lao Airlines Flight 301 is located in Laos
Lao Airlines Flight 301
Location of the accident shown within 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,[1] 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.[2][3][4][5] The investigation report suggests pilot error as the probable cause.[6] The accident was the second-deadliest aviation incident in 2013, behind Tatarstan Airlines Flight 363.


The aircraft involved was an ATR 72-600, registration RDPL-34233, serial number 1071, with an accumulated 758 hours of flight. It was delivered to Lao Airlines on 29 March 2013.[7][8]


The aircraft was operating a scheduled domestic passenger flight from Wattay International Airport, Vientiane to Pakse International Airport, Pakse, Laos.[9][10] 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.[11][12][13] 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.[10]

There were five crew and 44 passengers on board, all of whom are presumed to have died upon impact.[14] Marks on the ground indicated that the aircraft landed heavily on the ground before entering the Mekong.[15] The weather was reported to be poor at the time of the accident due to the remnants of Typhoon Nari affecting southern Laos.[10][16]

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.[7] Eighteen of the victims had been recovered as of 18 October.[17] By 23 October 44 of the 49 victims had been recovered. Identification had been confirmed for 27 of them.[18] Some of the victims were found 19 kilometres (12 mi) downstream of the crash site.[15]


The Laotian Department of Civil Aviation opened an investigation into the accident.[7] 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.[10] The BEA sent four investigators to Laos.[19]

The wreckage of the aircraft was lifted from the Mekong on 22 October 2013.[18] More than two weeks after the accident, on 31 October 2013, the Cockpit Voice Recorder was successfully recovered from the Mekong.[10][20] The Flight Data Recorder was recovered two days later on 2 November.[10]

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.[21] 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.[citation needed]

Passengers and crew[edit]

The victims were of eleven nationalities. Of the 44 passengers on board, 16 were Laotian,[14] as were four of the five crew. The pilot was a Cambodian national.[15][16] 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.[11] At least two children, both from Australia, were among the dead.[22] Early reports that a Canadian was on board were incorrect, since it was later determined that the individual was a Vietnamese national.[23]

Country Passengers Crew Total
 Laos 16 4 20
 France 7 7
 Australia 6 6
 Thailand 5 5
 Korea, Republic of 3 3
 Vietnam 3 3
 Cambodia 1 1
 China 1 1
 Malaysia 1 1
 Taiwan 1 1
 United States 1 1
Total 44 5 49

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Taylor, Ellis (17 October 2013). "ATR releases more details on Lao Airlines crash". Singapore: Flightglobal. Archived from the original on 17 October 2013.
  2. ^ "Laos air safety profile". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  3. ^ "Lao Aviation". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  4. ^ "Lao Airlines". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  5. ^ "Lao Aviation incident record". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
  6. ^ Corben, Ron (November 29, 2014). "Pilot error 'probable cause' for Lao crash". Seven News. Australia. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  7. ^ a b c Pongkhao, Somsack. "Recovery effort underway after Lao Airlines plane crash". Vientiane Times. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  8. ^ "Lao Airlines ATR 42/72 – MSN 1071 – RDPL-34233". Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  9. ^ Drum, Bruce. "Breaking News: A Lao Airlines ATR 72 crashes in the Mekong River, 44 people on board". World Airline News. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Hradecky, Simon. "Crash: Lao AT72 at Pakse on Oct 16th 2013, went into Mekong River on approach". The Aviation Herald. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  11. ^ a b "Bad weather being blamed for Lao Airlines crash which killed 49 passengers and crew". Reuters. 17 October 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
  12. ^ "Lao plane crashes into Mekong River, 39 people killed". Voice of Russia. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  13. ^ Toh, Mavis. "Lao Airlines working to identify cause of ATR 72 crash". Singapore: Flightglobal. Archived from the original on 18 October 2013.
  14. ^ a b Doksone, Thanyarat. "49 feared dead in plane crash in Laos". Associated Press. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  15. ^ a b c Harmer, Jerry (17 October 2013). "Bodies recovered in Mekong after Laos plane crash". The Aiken Standard. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  16. ^ a b "Dozens reported killed in Laos plane crash". CNN. 16 October 2013. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  17. ^ "Govt demands prompt rescue operation after Pakxe plane crash". Vientiane Times. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  18. ^ a b "26 bodies identified, Lao aircraft lifted from Mekong River". MCOT. 23 October 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  19. ^ "Flight QV 301 on 16 October 2013 – ATR 72–600". Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation Civile. Archived from the original on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2013.() – French version(Archive)
  20. ^ "Announcement#11". Lao Airlines. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
  21. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 June 2015. Retrieved 2015-06-10.
  22. ^ "Six Aussies dead as Lao Airlines plane carrying 49 people crashes into Mekong River". Retrieved 17 October 2013.
  23. ^ "No Canadians on crashed plane in Laos". Citynews. Retrieved 18 October 2013.

External links[edit]