How Lao Airways Flight 301 Turned The Deadliest Aircraft Crash Ever To Happen In Laos


On October 16, 2013, Lao Airways Flight 301 took off from Wattay Worldwide Airport, Vientiane, to Pakse Worldwide Airport, Pakse. The flight time on this home Laotian route is usually simply over an hour. This fateful flight, nonetheless, didn’t make it to its vacation spot.

A newly delivered ATR 72-600

Flight 301 was operated on an ATR 72-600 (registration RDPL-34233) that was delivered simply seven months previous to the accident. Having logged solely 758 airframe hours, the plane was in mint working situation.


On the flight deck had been Captain Yong Som – a 57-year-old Cambodian nationwide with 3,200 hours on the ATR-72 and a complete of 5,600 flying hours – and First Officer Soulisack Houvanthong, aged 22, who had logged round 400 hours of flying expertise.

The lethal Storm Nari

The flight departed from Vientiane at 14:45 on October 16, 2013. Climate experiences had been poor as a result of passing Storm Nari, a lethal tropical cyclone that recorded wind speeds of as much as 115 mph (sustained for one minute), wrecking harm price $289.6 million throughout the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos.

Upon strategy to Pakse, the process known as for a descent to the minimal descent altitude of 900 toes, permitting for continued descent provided that floor visible references had been obtainable.

Sadly, the crew had incorrectly set the altitude preselect mode to 600 toes. At this level, the bottom was nonetheless not seen, so the crew disconnected the autopilot and aborted the strategy to conduct a go-around.

Seconds to catastrophe

Because the pilots tried to execute a second strategy, the flight director (a element associated to the autopilot system that gives a information however doesn’t management the plane) indicated deceptive readings that had been inappropriate for the go-around. This was as a result of flight crew’s incorrect altitude number of 600 toes.

Photograph: ATR

The missed strategy was then adopted by a proper flip, as a substitute of the nominal climb printed within the strategy chart. As this occurred, the plane started to lose altitude. When a collection of warnings rang by the flight deck, the crew realized they had been too near the terrain, at simply 60 toes above floor degree.

In an over-reaction, the captain put the plane into an excessive pitch altitude of 33°. The aircraft climbed to 1,750 toes earlier than pitching downwards once more, persevering with its descent.

In the end, Flight 301 impacted the Mekong riverbank and plunged into the water at 15:55.

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The aftermath

The accident claimed the lives of all 44 passengers and 5 crew members onboard. This included 20 Laotians, seven French nationals, six Australians, 5 Thais, three South Koreans, three Vietnamese, and one every from Cambodia, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, and the USA. The fatalities on this single accident make up greater than 10% of the overall air accident deaths in Laos in over a century.

The investigation by the Plane Accident Investigation Committee (AAIC) Laos took 13 months, assisted by ATR and the French Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses pour la Sécurité de l’Aviation Civile (BEA).

The possible reason behind the accident was famous to be the flight crew’s failure to correctly execute the printed missed strategy process. Following the crash, eight security suggestions had been drawn up. These included actions to make sure flight crews obtain ample coaching.

Since 1919, Laos has recorded 36 deadly accidents – none of which had been as disastrous as Flight 301.

Supply: Aviation Security Community

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