The Laos Aircraft Accident Investigation Committee (AAIC) concluded that the captain’s mishandled go-around led to a fatal accident near Pakse, Laos on October 16, 2013.
Lao Airlines Flight QV301 originated in Vientiane, Laos and operated a domestic service to Pakse with 44 passengers and five crew members on board. Weather in the area of Pakse 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 approach 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 during this turn.
A series of EGPWS warnings then 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.