Thai Airways International Flight 261
A Thai Airways International Airbus A310 similar to the one involved in Flight 261
|Date||11 December 1998|
|Summary||Stalled, spatial disorientation in stormy weather, pilot error|
|Site||0.7 km S of Surat Thani Airport (URT) (Thailand)|
|Aircraft type||Airbus A310-204|
|Operator||Thai Airways International|
|Flight origin||Don Mueang International Airport (DMK)|
|Destination||Surat Thani 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 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.
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.
The accident was the second deadliest plane crash in Thailand, behind Lauda Air Flight 004. It was the fifth worst accident involving the Airbus A310 and the fourth hull loss of an Airbus A310.
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.
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. 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 ILS, pilots had to use a radio navigation system which was less accurate.
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.
In popular culture
- Modernine TV discussed Thai Airways International Flight 261 on TimeLine, 30 May 2016, in "Flight 261 Disaster".
- "Grim task over". BBC. 12 December 1998.
- "Thai crash victims compensation offer". BBC. 13 December 1998.
- ข่าวดังข้ามเวลา : หายนะ..เที่ยวบิน 261 (30 พ.ค.2559)