Lauda Air Flight 004
Lauda Air
Lauda Air
Lauda Air is an airline based in Schwechat, Austria. It operates scheduled leisure flights and charters to holiday destinations in Europe and North Africa. Its main base is Vienna International Airport. Lauda Air is a member of the Austrian Airlines Group and a affiliate Star Alliance...

Flight 004 was an international passenger flight that crashed due to a thrust reverser deployment of the number 1 engine
An engine or motor is a machine designed to convert energy into useful mechanical motion. Heat engines, including internal combustion engines and external combustion engines burn a fuel to create heat which is then used to create motion...

 in flight.

History of the flight

On 26 May 1991, at 23:02 local time, Flight NG004 (originating from Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

's Kai Tak Airport
Kai Tak Airport
Kai Tak Airport was the international airport of Hong Kong from 1925 until 1998. It was officially known as the Hong Kong International Airport from 1954 to 6 July 1998, when it was closed and replaced by the new Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok, 30 km to the west...

), a Boeing 767-3Z9ER
Boeing 767
The Boeing 767 is a mid-size, wide-body twin-engine jet airliner built by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. It was the manufacturer's first wide-body twinjet and its first airliner with a two-crew glass cockpit. The aircraft features two turbofan engines, a supercritical wing, and a conventional tail...

, registration OE-LAV, ship name Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

, took off from Old Bangkok International Airport (Don Mueang International Airport) for its flight to Vienna International Airport
Vienna International Airport
Vienna International Airport , located in Schwechat and southeast of central Vienna, is the busiest and biggest airport in Austria. It is often referred to as Schwechat, the name of the county it is in. The airport is capable of handling wide-body aircraft such as the Boeing 747 and Airbus A340...

 with 213 passengers and 10 crew, under the command of Captain Thomas J. Welch (American) and First Officer Josef Thurner (Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...


At 23:08, Welch and Thurner received a visual warning indicating that a possible system failure would cause the thrust reverser on the number 1 engine to deploy in flight. Having consulted the aircraft's Quick Reference Handbook, they determined that it was "just an advisory thing" and took no action.

At 23:17, the thrust reverser on the number 1 engine deployed while the plane was over mountainous jungle terrain in the border area between Suphanburi
Suphanburi Province
Suphan Buri is one of the central provinces of Thailand. Neighboring provinces are Uthai Thani, Chai Nat, Sing Buri, Ang Thong, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Nakhon Pathom and Kanchanaburi.- Etymology :...

 and Uthai Thani
Uthai Thani Province
Uthai Thani is one of the provinces of Thailand. Neighboring provinces are Nakhon Sawan, Chai Nat, Suphan Buri, Kanchanaburi and Tak.-Geography:...

 provinces, Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

. Thurner's last recorded words were, "Oh, reverser's deployed!".

The 767 stalled
Stall (flight)
In fluid dynamics, a stall is a reduction in the lift coefficient generated by a foil as angle of attack increases. This occurs when the critical angle of attack of the foil is exceeded...

 in mid-air and disintegrated at 4,000 feet (1,200 meters). Most of the wreckage was scattered over a remote forest area roughly 1 km2 in size, at an elevation of 600 m above sea level, in what is now Phu Toei National Park
Phu Toei National Park
Phu Toei National Park is a national park located in Dan Chang, Suphan Buri, Thailand. It has been a national park since September 30, 1987....

, Suphanburi. The wreckage was at 14.44 degrees north and 99.26 east. The wreckage site is about three nautical miles north northeast of Phu Toey, Huay Kamin, Dan Chang District, Suphan Buri Province.Hikers arrived at the crash site and took footage of the wreckage.

None of the 223 passengers and crew aboard the airliner survived. It was the first fatal crash of a Boeing 767. The accident remains the deadliest aviation disaster on Thai soil to date, and the deadliest 767 crash. Rescuers found the body of Welch still in the pilot's seat. After the accident, scavengers collected electronics and jewellery. About one quarter of the airline's carrying capacity vanished as a result of the crash.

Upon hearing of the crash, Niki Lauda
Niki Lauda
Andreas Nikolaus "Niki" Lauda is an Austrian former Formula One racing driver and three-time F1 World Champion. More recently an aviation entrepreneur, he has founded and run two airlines and was manager of the Jaguar Formula One racing team for two years.- Early years in racing :Born in Vienna,...

, retired Formula 1
Formula One
Formula One, also known as Formula 1 or F1 and referred to officially as the FIA Formula One World Championship, is the highest class of single seater auto racing sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile . The "formula" designation in the name refers to a set of rules with which...

 race driver and owner of the airline, travelled to Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

. He examined the wreckage and concluded that the largest fragment was about 5 metres (16.4 ft) by 2 metres (6.6 ft), "about half the size of the largest piece in the Lockerbie crash
Pan Am Flight 103
Pan Am Flight 103 was Pan American World Airways' third daily scheduled transatlantic flight from London Heathrow Airport to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport...

." As evidence started to point towards the thrust reversers as the cause of the accident, he made simulator flights at Gatwick Airport which appeared to show that deployment of a thrust reverser was a survivable incident. Lauda said that the thrust reverser could not be the sole cause of the crash.
The accident report states that the "flightcrew training simulators yielded erroneous results" and stated that recovery from the loss of lift
Lift (force)
A fluid flowing past the surface of a body exerts a surface force on it. Lift is the component of this force that is perpendicular to the oncoming flow direction. It contrasts with the drag force, which is the component of the surface force parallel to the flow direction...

 from the reverser deployment "was uncontrollable for an unexpecting flight crew".
The incident led Boeing to modify the thrust reverser system to prevent similar occurrences.

Aviation writer Macarthur Job
Macarthur Job
Macarthur Job is an Australian aviation writer and air safety consultant. He has published nine books on aviation safety...

 has noted that, "had that Boeing 767 been of an earlier version of the type, fitted with engines that were mechanically rather than electronically controlled, then that accident could not have happened."

At the crash site, which is accessible to national park visitors, a shrine was later erected to commemorate the victims. Another memorial and cemetery is located near Ban Tha Sadet, some 90 km away in Amphoe Mueang Suphanburi
Amphoe Mueang Suphanburi
Mueang Suphanburi is the capital district of Suphanburi Province, central Thailand.-History:Suphan Buri is an old city. In the era of Ankorian king Jayavarman VII, inscription called Prasat Phra Khan was made and which mentions the name of Suvarnapura. Later Suphan Buri become important city of...



The passengers were of 83 nationalities. The passengers and crew included 83 Austrians. Of the passengers, 125 had boarded in Hong Kong, while the rest boarded in Bangkok.

Notable victims

  • Donald McIntosh, a 43-year old British senior United Nations
    United Nations
    The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

     anti-drug official posted in Bangkok. His death caused Austrian newspapers to post initial speculation stating that people bombed the airplane to kill him; a UN spokesperson said that he was not on a secret mission and could not have been a target of an assassination.
  • Pairat Decharin, the governor of Chiang Mai Province
    Chiang Mai Province
    Chiang Mai is the second-largest province of Thailand, located in the north of the country. Neighboring provinces are Chiang Rai, Lampang, Lamphun, Tak, and Mae Hong Son. In the north it borders Shan State of Burma...

    , and his wife.

See also

  • Azza Transport Flight 2241
    Azza Transport Flight 2241
    Azza Transport Flight 2241 was a scheduled cargo flight from Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, to Khartoum, Sudan, which crashed on 21 October 2009.-Aircraft:...

  • TAM Flight 402

External links

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