HL7229, the aircraft involved in the accident, at Copenhagen Airport in November 1992
|Date||July 26, 1993|
|Summary||Controlled flight into terrain due to pilot error and deteriorating weather conditions|
Ungeo Mountain near Mokpo Airport, South Korea |
|Aircraft type||Boeing 737-5L9|
|Flight origin||Seoul-Gimpo International Airport (SEL)|
|Destination||Mokpo Airport (MPK)|
Asiana Airlines Flight 733 (OZ733, AAR733, registration HL7229) was a domestic Asiana Airlines passenger flight from Seoul-Gimpo International Airport (SEL at the time, now GMP) to Mokpo Airport (MPK), South Korea. The flight crashed on July 26, 1993 in the Hwawon area of Haenam County, South Jeolla Province, killing 68 of the 116 passengers and crew on board, including the captain and one other crew member.
The aircraft was a Boeing 737-500, which made its maiden flight June 14, 1990. The aircraft was delivered to Maersk Air on June 26 the same year (with registration OY-MAB). The aircraft was then leased to Asiana Airlines on November 26, 1992.
There were three Japanese nationals and two American nationals among the passengers, many of whom were vacationers heading for the popular summer resort there off the Yellow Sea, according to the airline.
On July 26, 1993, flight 733 departed Gimpo International Airport in Seoul, bound for Mokpo Airport, which a scheduled arrival by 15:15. At that time, the weather conditions in Mokpo and Yeongam County area consisted of heavy rain and wind. However, the weather conditions were not enough to delay the arrival time. The aircraft made its first landing attempt at 15:24, which failed, followed by a second landing attempt at 15:28, which also failed. At 15:38, after two failed landing attempts, the aircraft made a third attempt. At 15:41 the aircraft disappeared from the radar screens and communication was lost. At 15:48 the aircraft crashed into Ungeo Mountain. At 15:50, the wreckage was found in the near Masanri, Hwasun County, Haenam County, South Jeolla Province, about 10 kilometers southwest of Mokpo Airport. The news was reported by two surviving passengers who also survived the crash of Japan Airlines Flight 123, reported to the Hwawon-myeon branch of the village below the mountain, that the aircraft began to veer off course. However, there was also difficulty.
Asiana Airlines announced that after the accident, the plane was slowed down by three landing attempts and that it appears to have crashed. Experts said the distance to the runway was 1500 meters shorter in one direction only. The runways did not have an ILS installed. Mokpo Airport was only equipped with VOR/DME, resulting in pilots performing excessive landing attempts in some cases. and was a conntributing cause of the accident. A prosecution in charge of investigating the accident, announced that the aircraft had disappeared from the normal flight route, and pilots were likely to make an unintentional landing with a misunderstanding. Chung Jong-hwan, the director general of the Ministry of Transportation said that the cause of the crash was pilot error; the actions of captain Hwang In-ki, who was killed in the crash, were the main cause of the accident. Hwang had started the aircraft's descent prematurely, while it was flying above a mountain peak. According to the cockpit voice recorder (CVR), Hwang flew the aircraft below the minimum safe altitude (1600 feet), as he said "OK, 800 feet" a few seconds before impact.
This was Asiana Airlines' first fatal (and as of 2018, deadliest) aircraft crash since the airline was established. After the accident Asiana suspended the Gimpo - Mokpo route. The airline paid compensation to anguished families of the victims. In addition, at the time the transportation department was planning to build Muan International Airport in Muan County, Jeolla Province. When Muan International Airport was opened in 2007, Mokpo Airport was only available to the military. The accident caused Asiana to cancel their order of Boeing 757-200's and instead ordered the Airbus A321.
After the crash of flight 733, Asiana Airlines had two more crashes in July the same year, resulting in what the airline referred to as the curse of seven.
Flight 733 was the deadliest aviation accident in South Korea at that time. It was surpassed by Air China Flight 129, which crashed on April 15, 2002, with 129 fatalities. It was also the deadliest accident involving a Boeing 737-500 at that time. It was surpassed by Aeroflot Flight 821, which crashed on September 14, 2008, with 88 fatalities. As of 2018, flight 733 remains the second deadliest crash in both of these catagories.