NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


Korean Air Flight 6316 MD-11, Shanghai, China - April 15, 1999

April 27, 1999

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) today released the following information on its investigation of the crash of Korean Air flight 6316 earlier this month. CAAC has asked that the National Transportation Safety Board publish the information in the United States.

On April 15, 1999, Korean Air flight 6316 crashed shortly after takeoff from Shanghai, China. The airplane was destroyed, and the two pilots and one mechanic on board were killed. Additionally, 5 persons on the ground were killed, and 37 others were injured. Flight 6316 was a regularly scheduled cargo flight from Shanghai to Seoul, Korea.

The flight departed runway 18 and was cleared by air traffic control (ATC) initially to an altitude of 900 meters and to turn left to intercept the November Hotel Whiskey navigational fix. ATC subsequently cleared the flight to climb to 1,500 meters. About the time that radio contact was lost, the flight was cleared to climb to 5,700 meters.

The accident investigation is being conducted by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) with the assistance of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Korean Civil Aviation Bureau (KCAB), in accordance with Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation. Boeing Commercial Airplane Group; Pratt & Whitney, Inc.; the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); and Korean Air are providing technical support.

Preliminary Findings

1. On the basis of eyewitness statements and ground marks, it appears that the airplane impacted the ground nearly wings level in a 35° to 45° angle of descent.

2. Radar data indicate that the airplane's altitude just before starting to descend was 1,400 meters.

3. Calculations and fuel records from the cockpit logbook indicate that about 49,000 pounds of fuel were on board when the airplane departed Shanghai.

4. The weather was low clouds with light rain. No adverse weather was reported along the flight path of the airplane.

5. The airplane was severely fragmented by impact.

6. The cargo on the airplane did not contain any dangerous goods.

7. The captain had a total of about 12,898 flight hours, of which about 4,856 hours were in the MD-11.

8. The first officer had a total of about 1,820 flight hours, of which about 1,152 hours were in the MD-11.

9. The digital CVR was severely damaged; however, the memory module was recovered and brought by the CAAC to the NTSB laboratory for examination. The recording is of high quality.

10. The flight data recorder was destroyed by impact, and only fragments of the tape have been recovered.

11. A section of quick access recorder (QAR) tape was recovered from the accident site. Although it was damaged, it is hoped that the accident was recorded on the tape. Damage to the tape precluded normal examination. The NTSB is working with the QAR manufacturer to determine the best means to recover the data. However, it may be several weeks before data from the QAR will be available.

12. The electronic engine controls (EEC) from the No. 2 and No. 3 engines were recovered and examined at the manufacturer's facility under NTSB oversight. The engines' positions on the airplane were programmed into the EEC. No engine faults were logged during the accident flight.

13. There is no evidence of an in-flight fire or an explosion before impact.

14. There is no evidence of criminal action.

15. The flight crew's conversations with ATC were routine, and the ATC and CVR tapes indicate that all ATC procedures were followed correctly.

16. No components of the airplane were found along the flight path before the point of impact.

17. The flight crew did not inform ATC of any problems with the airplane, request to return to land, or declare an emergency.

18. The flight crew's conversations recorded by the CVR indicate that shortly after takeoff the crew experienced a problem in maneuvering the airplane. The initial review of the crew's comments has not revealed the nature of the problem to investigators.

19. Flight control actuators, flight control and navigational computers that contain nonvolatile memory chips, and other components are being documented and will be examined further at appropriate laboratories.

20. The investigation continues under the supervision of the CAAC with the full support and cooperation of the NTSB, KCAB, Korean Air, FAA, and manufacturers.

Further information on the progress of this investigation will be released by CAAC.

NTSB Office of Public Affairs: (202) 314-6100

 

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.