Korean Air Cargo Flight 6316

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Korean Air Cargo Flight 6316 (also known as KAL6316 and KE6316) was a scheduled Korean Air Cargo freight flight from Shanghai to Seoul. On April 15, 1999, the McDonnell Douglas MD-11F operating the route, registered as HL7373, crashed in Xinzhuang, Shanghai shortly after taking off from Hongqiao Airport, killing all 3 crew on board, along with 5 on the ground.


Loaded with 86 tons of cargo, the MD-11F operating Flight 6316 took off from Shanghai Hongqiao Airport at around 4:00 pm. The flight crew consisted of 54-year-old Captain Hong Sung-sil (Korean: 홍성실; Hanja: 洪性實), 35-year-old First Officer Park Bon-suk (박본석; 朴本錫), and 48-year-old flight engineer Park Byong-ki (박병기; 朴炳基). After taking off, the MD-11F received clearance to climb to 1,500 m (4,900 ft) after the first officer contacted Shanghai Departure. As the aircraft climbed to 4,500 ft (1,400 m), the first officer told the captain that the required altitude should be 1,500 ft (460 m), thinking that the aircraft was 3,000 feet too high. Therefore, the captain pushed the control column abruptly forward, causing the aircraft to descend at over 34,000 feet per minute. At 4:04 pm, the aircraft became uncontrollable due to the steep dive and eventually crashed into an industrial zone in Xinzhuang, which is 10 kilometres (6.2 mi; 5.4 nmi) southwest of Hongqiao Airport. The aircraft impacted the ground and exploded. Along with the 3 South Korean crew on board, 2 pupils and 3 migrant workers on the ground also perished. The crash was recorded by the nearby Shanghai Earthquake Administration which indicated that the impact forces had generated an equivalent of a 1.6 magnitude earthquake.


The aircraft operated Flight 6316 was a McDonnell Douglas MD-11 freighter with the registration HL7373 and S/N 48409, powered by three Pratt & Whitney PW4460 engines. Built in February 1992, this aircraft was delivered to Korean Air on March 24, 1992. In 1996, the aircraft was converted to a freighter.


On April 27, 1999, the primary investigation revealed no evidence of explosion or mechanical failure before the impact. In June 2001, further investigation carried out by CAAC showed that the first officer had confused 1,500 metres, the required altitude, with 1,500 feet, causing the pilot to make the wrong decision to descend.In almost all countries, aviation altitudes are measured in feet in compliance with the ICAO convention. Only China, Russia, North Korea, and some nearby countries use metres.
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