ASN Aircraft accident McDonnell Douglas MD-11F HL7373 Shanghai-Hongqiao Airport (SHA)
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Status:Accident investigation report completed and information captured
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
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
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Aircraft 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 its 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.

Accident investigation:

Investigating agency: MAK Russia
Status: Investigation completed
Accident number: Final report
Download report: Final report

Language/communication problems
Loss of control

» ICAO Adrep Summary 3/2001 (#35)

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.

CAAC issued 6 Safety Recommendations

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photo of MD-11F-HL7373
accident date: 15-04-1999
type: McDonnell Douglas MD-11F
registration: HL7373
photo of MD-11F-HL7373
accident date: 15-04-1999
type: McDonnell Douglas MD-11F
registration: HL7373

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).
Accident location: Approximate; accuracy within a few kilometers.

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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