China Airlines Flight 642

China Airlines Flight 642
China Airlines Flight 642

Mandarin Airlines MD-11 (B-151)
Accident summary
Date 22 August 1999
Type Pilot error
Site Hong Kong International Airport
Passengers 300
Crew 15
Injuries 208 (44 serious, 164 minor)
Fatalities 3
Survivors 312
Aircraft type McDonnell Douglas MD-11
Operator China Airlines
Tail number B-150
Flight origin Don Mueang International Airport
Stopover Hong Kong International Airport
Destination Chiang Kai-shek International Airport

China Airlines Flight 642 was a flight that crashed at Hong Kong International Airport on 22 August 1999. It was operating from Bangkok (Bangkok International Airport, now renamed Don Mueang International Airport) to Taipei with a stopover in Hong Kong.[1]

The plane, an MD-11, was in subsidiary Mandarin Airlines colours. While landing during a typhoon, it touched down hard, flipped over and caught fire. Of the people on board 312 survived and three were killed.

The flight continues to operate today with the flight no longer originating in Bangkok and is strictly a Hong Kong-Taipei route.



At about 6:43 P.M. on 22 August 1999, B-150, a McDonnell Douglas MD-11, was making its final approach to runway 25L when Typhoon Sam was 50 km NE of the airport. At an altitude of 700 feet prior to touchdown a further wind check was passed to the crew: 320 deg/28 knots gusting to 36 knots, while maximum crosswind component limit for the aircraft was 24 knots. The crew neglected this and continued the landing. During the final flare to land, the plane rolled to the right, landed hard on its right main gear and the No. 3 engine touched the runway. The right wing separated from the fuselage. The aircraft continued to roll over and skidded off the runway in flames. When it stopped, it was on its back and the rear of the plane was on fire, coming to rest on a grass area next to the runway, 1100 m from the runway threshold. The right wing was found on a taxiway 90 meters from the nose of the plane.[2] As shown in photos of the aircraft at rest, the fire caused significant damage to the rear section of the aircraft but was quickly extinguished due to the heavy rain and quick response from rescue teams in the airport.

Of the 300 passengers 3 died; all 15 crew members survived.


The final report of the accident blamed it mainly on pilot error; specifically the inability to arrest the high rate of descent existing at 50 ft altitude on the radar altimeter. The descent rate at touch down was 18–20 ft/s. The flight data stored in the volatile memory of the aircraft's Quick Access Recorder (QAR) during the last 500 ft of the approach could not be recovered due to the interruption of the power supply at impact. Probable wind variations and the loss of headwind component, together with the early retardation of thrust levers, led to a 20 kt loss in indicated airspeed just prior to touchdown.[3]

Due to the severe weather conditions forecast for Hong Kong, the flight crew had prepared to divert the flight to Taipei if the situation at Hong Kong was deemed unsuitable for landing. Extra fuel was carried for this possibility, resulting in a landing weight of 429557 lb, which is just 443 lb below its maximum landing weight. Based on the initial weather and wind check which was passed to the crew from Hong Kong during the flight, they believed they could land there and decided against a diversion to Taipei. However four earlier flights had carried out missed approaches at Hong Kong and five had diverted.

During the final approach, the plane descended along the ILS glideslope until at about 700 ft, the crew visually acquired the runway. They disengaged the autopilot but left the autothrottle on. During the flare, the rate of descent was not arrested, the plane landed with the right wing slightly lower. The right landing gear touched down first, the right engine impacted the runway and the right wing was detached from the fuselage. Since the left wing was still attached, the lift from that wing rolled the fuselage onto its right side, and the plane came to rest inverted in the grass strip next to the runway. The spilled fuel caught fire.[3]

Several suggestions were given to China Airlines concerning its training.[3]


A group of people in a car filmed the crash of China Airlines Flight 642; several websites display the video and the audible commentary by the occupants of the car. The video was posted on YouTube and

Snopes reported about a chain e-mail that shows a picture of an upside-down and crashed 642 next to an intact Mandarin airliner [1].


External links

External images
Photos of Mandarin Airlines Flight 642]

Coordinates: 22°18′32″N 113°54′54″E / 22.309°N 113.915°E / 22.309; 113.915

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