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Accident description
Last updated: 25 April 2017
Date:Thursday 15 April 1999
Type:Silhouette image of generic MD11 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
McDonnell Douglas MD-11F
Operator:Korean Air
Registration: HL7373
C/n / msn: 48409/490
First flight: 1992
Total airframe hrs:28347
Engines: 3 Pratt & Whitney PW4462
Crew:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 0
Total:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Ground casualties:Fatalities: 5
Airplane damage: Destroyed
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:10 km (6.3 mls) SW of Shanghai-Hongqiao Airport (SHA) (   China)
Phase: En route (ENR)
Departure airport:Shanghai-Hongqiao Airport (SHA/ZSSS), China
Destination airport:Seoul-Gimpo (Kimpo) International Airport (SEL/RKSS), South Korea
The MD-11F cargo plane, HL7373, was operating flight KE6316 from Shanghai's Honqiao Airport, China to Seoul, South Korea. The plane was loaded with 68 tons of cargo and pushed back from it's stand. Shanghai Tower then cleared the flight as follows: "Korean Air six three one six clear to destination flight planned route flight level two niner zero. After departure turn left direct to November Hotel Whiskey. Initially climb and maintain niner hundred meters. Departure frequency one one niner zero five. Squawk six three one six." The engines were started and the airplane taxied to runway 18. Shortly after 16:00 hours the flight was cleared for takeoff. After takeoff the first officer contacted Shanghai Departure and received clearance to climb to 1500 metres (4900 feet): "Korean Air six three one six now turn left direct to November Hotel Whiskey climb and maintain one thousand five hundred meters."
When the aircraft climbed to 4500 feet in the corridor, the captain, after receiving two wrong affirmative answers from the first officer that the required altitude should be 1500 feet, thought that the aircraft was 3000 feet too high. The captain then pushed the control column abruptly and roughly forward causing the MD-11 to enter a rapid descent. Both crew members tried to recover from the dive, but were unable. The airplane crashed into an industrial development zone 10 kilometers (6 miles) southwest of Hongqiao airport. The plane impacted the ground, destroying several houses.

Probable Cause:

Probable Cause: The joint investigative team determines that the probable cause of the Korean Air flight KE 6316 accident was the flight crew's loss of altitude situational awareness resulting from altitude clearance wrongly relayed by the first officer and the crew's overreaction with abrupt flight control inputs.

Loss of control

» ICAO Adrep Summary 3/2001 (#35)

Official accident investigation report
investigating agency: Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC / MAK) - Russia
report status: Final
report number: Final report
download report: Final report

Follow-up / safety actions
The South Korean Ministry of Construction and Transportation announced its decision to abolish Korean Air's license to operate its Seoul-Shanghai cargo route if Korean Air fails to defend itself at a hearing on June 19, 2001.

issued 6 Safety Recommendations

Show all AD's and Safety Recommendations


photo of McDonnell Douglas MD-11F HL7373
photo of McDonnell Douglas MD-11F HL7373
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This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Shanghai-Hongqiao Airport to Seoul-Gimpo (Kimpo) International Airport as the crow flies is 860 km (538 miles).

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  • 3rd loss
  • 2nd fatal accident
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