7 Years ago today: On 16 October 2013 a Lao Airlines ATR-72-600 crashed near Pakse Airport when the crew lost situational awareness during the approach, killing all 49 on board.

Date:Wednesday 16 October 2013
Type:Silhouette image of generic AT76 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
ATR 72-212A (ATR 72-600)
Operator:Lao Airlines
C/n / msn:1071
First flight:2013-03-06 (7 months)
Total airframe hrs:758
Engines:Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127M
Crew:Fatalities: 5 / Occupants: 5
Passengers:Fatalities: 44 / Occupants: 44
Total:Fatalities: 49 / Occupants: 49
Aircraft damage:Destroyed
Aircraft fate:Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:8 km (5 mls) NW of Pakse Airport (PKZ) (   Laos)
Phase:Approach (APR)
Nature:Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Vientiane-Wattay Airport (VTE/VLVT), Laos
Destination airport:Pakse Airport (PKZ/VLPS), Laos

A Lao Airlines ATR-72 was damaged beyond repair in an accident near Pakse, Laos. All 44 passengers and five crew members were killed in the accident.
Flight QV301 originated in Vientiane, Laos at 14:45 and operated a domestic service to Pakse. Weather in the area was poor as a result of a passing typhoon.

The flight was cleared for a VOR-DME non-precision approach to runway 15. After passing the final approach fix, the procedure called for a descent to the minimum descent altitude of 990 feet. After this the approach may only be continued if ground visual references are available.
The crew however incorrectly set the altitude preselect (ALT SEL) mode to 600 feet. This was still below the (incorrectly) published height of 645 feet on their Jeppesen chart.
Since the ground was not visible at 600 feet, the crew disconnected the autopilot and aborted the approach with the intention to conduct a missed approach.
After the aborted approach, the Flight Director vertical mode switched to Go Around and immediately went into altitude capture mode because the altitude selected was 600 feet. The missed approach was followed by a right turn instead of a nominal climb as published in the VOR-DME approach chart. The airplane began losing altitude.

A series of EGPWS warnings sounded and the height reached the minimum value of 60 feet above ground level and the roll reached approximately 37° to the right.
When the flight crew realized that the altitude was too close to the ground, the captain over-reacted, which led to a high pitch attitude of 33°. The Flight Director command bars then disappeared from the screen because of the extreme aircraft position.
The airplane climbed to an altitude of 1750 feet until the airplane pitched down again. The Flight Director command bars then reappeared and centered during the descent, because the selected altitude was still 600 feet.
The descent was continued until the airplane impacted the Mekong River. The fuselage broke and sank in the river.

Probable Cause:

Causes of the Accident:
The probable cause of this accident were the sudden change of weather condition and the flight crew’s failure to properly execute the published instrument approach, including the published missed approach procedure, which resulted in the aircraft impacting the terrain.
The following factors may have contributed to the accident:
– The flight crew’s decision to continue the approach below the published minima
– The flight crew’s selection of an altitude in the AL T SEL window below the minima, which led to misleading FD horizontal bar readings during the go-around
– Possible Somatogravic illusions suffered by the PF
– The automatic reappearance of the FD crossbars consistent with the operating logic of the aeroplane systems, but inappropriate for the go-around
– The inadequate monitoring of primary flight parameters during the go-around, which may have been worsened by the PM’s attention all tunneling on the management of the aircraft flap configuration
– The flight crew’s limited coordination that led to a mismatch of action plans between the PF and the PM during the final approach.