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Photo: ATR

An ATR72-600 in Lao Airlines paint scheme, similar to the one that crashed. Photo: ATR

A Lao Airlines ATR 72-600 crashed on the 16th of October, 2013, at around 4:10pm local (0910Z) near Pakse, Laos.

The aircraft, registered under RDPL-34233, was MSN (Manufacturer Serial Number) 1071, delivered from the production line in March 2013. The brand new airplane was operating as domestic flight QV301 between Vientiane(IATA: VTE, ICAO: VLVT) and Pakse (IATA: PKZ, ICAO: VLPS) with 44 passengers and 5 crew members on board. All 49 on board are feared no-more.

The great circle distance between between Vientiane and Pakse is 250NM. Part of the flight occurs over neighboring Thailand. The crash seems to have happened when approaching runway 15 of VLPS. The aircraft crashed about 5NM from touchdown. Weather is a suspect, considering cyclone Nari’s effect on the region.

The runway at Pakse is 5332 feet long. The airport has a VOR, and NDB, but no ILS. The airport is co-operated by military and civilian authorities.

Lao Airlines was founded in 1976. In 1995, the airline received its first ATR 72. According to the airline, the ATR 72s (4 ATR 72-500 + 2 ATR 72-600 including one that crashed) form the backbone of the carrier’s fleet for international and major domestic services. Its fleet also comprises 4 Airbus A320 and 4 Xian MA60. The Chinese aircraft fleet is due to the country’s closer links with its Eastern neighbor. Laos was a French colony between 1893 and 1949.

Key points of ATR’s official statement include:

“At this time, the circumstances of the accident are still to be determined. Official sources of Lao Airlines declared that “the aircraft ran into extreme bad weather conditions and was reportedly crashed into the Mekong river. There were no news of survivors at this time”.

The Laos’ Authorities will lead the investigation and will remain the official source of information. In line with the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) Annex 13 convention, ATR will provide full assistance the French Bureau d’Enquêtes et Analyses (BEA), safety investigation authority representing the country of the aircraft manufacturer.”