Thai Airways International Flight 261

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Thai Airways International Flight 261
Thai Airways International Airbus A310 Hoppe.jpg
A Thai Airways International Airbus A310 similar to the one involved in Flight 261
Date11 December 1998 (1998-12-11)
Summaryspatial disorientation caused by inclement weather leading to pilot error followed by stall
Site0.7 km S of Surat Thani International Airport (URT) (Thailand)
Aircraft typeAirbus A310-204
Aircraft namePhitsanulok
OperatorThai Airways International
IATA flight No.TG261
ICAO flight No.THA261
Call signTHAI 261
Flight originDon Mueang International Airport (DMK)
DestinationSurat Thani International Airport (URT)

Thai Airways International Flight 261 (TG261/THA261) was a scheduled domestic passenger flight from Bangkok's Don Mueang International Airport, Thailand to Surat Thani International Airport in Surat Thani, Thailand. The flight was operated by Thai Airways International, the flag carrier of Thailand. On 11 December 1998, the aircraft, an Airbus A310-204 registered in Thailand as HS-TIA, stalled and crashed in a rice paddy on its landing attempt at Surat Thani Airport. A total of 101 people were killed in the crash.[1]

Thailand's Aircraft Accident Investigation Committee (AAIC) opened an investigation into the accident. The investigation revealed that the crew had become disoriented. Visibility was limited. Stress caused the crew to lose control of the aircraft. The AAIC noted also Surat Thani's minimal lighting and faulty warnings to the aircraft.[1]


HS-TIA was an Airbus A310-204, c/n 415, previously registered as F-WWBI for flight testing with Airbus. Given the name Phitsanulok, HS-TIA was first flown on 3 March 1986 and delivered to Thai Airways at Don Mueang on 29 April 1986.[2]


There were 25 foreigners on board the flight including nationalities from Austria, Australia, Britain, Finland, Germany, Japan, Norway, and the United States. Among the survivors were three Australians, three Japanese, three Germans, two Israelis and one Briton.[3][4]


Flight TG261 from Bangkok to Suratthani departed at 17:40 local time from Bangkok's Don Mueang International Airport. On board were 14 crew members and 132 passengers (including the 25 foreigners),[5] The estimated flight time was one hour and 55 minutes.[5][6]

Weather conditions were rainy at the time of the crash and the crew was unable to see the runway. At 19:05, the aircraft was attempting to land on runway 22 for the third time following two aborted landings. The captain ordered another go-around attempt and when the pitch attitude reached approximately 48 degrees the aircraft entered an aerodynamic stall, began to lose altitude and crashed into the ground, bursting into flames. 101 of the 146 passengers and crew died at the scene (11 of the 14 crew members were killed in the crash, including both pilots, while 90 of the 132 passengers were killed, including 14 of the 25 foreigners). The 45 survivors were rushed to hospital. One of the people killed in the crash was the sister of the Minister of Transport and Communications of Thailand.[7]


Airbus, the aircraft manufacturer, sent a team of specialists to assist Thai authorities in the crash investigation. Both the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder were found by the search and rescue team and were taken from the crash site for further investigation.[8] Investigators stated that bad weather was the probable cause of the accident, without ruling out pilot error. There was a project to extend the runway at Surat Thani Airport, however the project was delayed due to an economic downturn. A Thai air force pilot stated that due to the removal of the Instrument landing system (ILS), pilots had to use a radio navigation system which was less accurate.[9]


Thai Airways International offered compensation payment to the families affected by the crash. Thai Airways International chairman, Thamnoon Wanglee, stated on a news conference that each relatives of the 101 victims of the crash would receive a compensation payment of US$100,000, while the 45 injured survivors would receive a compensation of 200,000 baht (US$5,600) each. The airline would pay their medical expenses.[9]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Modernine TV discussed Thai Airways International Flight 261 on TimeLine, 30 May 2016, in "Flight 261 Disaster".[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Database-1998". Aviation Safety Network (ASN). Flight Safety Foundation. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  2. ^ "HS-TIA Thai Airways International Airbus A310-204 - cn 415". Retrieved 2013-12-17.
  3. ^ "Thai police stop search at crash site". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. AP. 1998-12-13. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  4. ^ "Thai plane was missing equipment". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. AP. 1998-12-14. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Thailand remembers fatal crash". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. 1999-12-12. Archived from the original on 2013-12-17. Retrieved 2013-12-17. Unknown parameter |deadlink= ignored (|dead-url= suggested) (help)
  6. ^ "Aircraft accident Airbus A310-204 HS-TIA Surat Thani Airport (URT)". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 2013-12-17.
  7. ^ "Database-1998". Aviation Safety Network (ASN). Flight Safety Foundation. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  8. ^ "Grim task over". BBC. 12 December 1998.
  9. ^ a b "Thai crash victims compensation offer". BBC. 13 December 1998.
  10. ^ สํานักข่าวไทย TNAMCOT, ข่าวดังข้ามเวลา ตอน หายนะ..เที่ยวบิน 261 [คลิปเต็มรายการ], retrieved 2018-12-12

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 9°07′39″N 99°8′26″E / 9.12750°N 99.14056°E / 9.12750; 99.14056