Aviation Accidents

China Northwest Airlines Flight 2303: A Tragic Tale of Aviation

On June 6, 1994, China Northwest Airlines Flight 2303, a Tupolev Tu-154M aircraft operating a domestic flight from Xi’an to Guangzhou, China, tragically crashed, killing all 160 people on board. The incident remains China’s deadliest aviation disaster.

The Events Leading Up to the Crash

On June 6, 1994, at 8:13, the aircraft departed from Xi’an Xianyang International Airport. Even though it was pouring at the time, there was no delay in departure.

The crew claimed that the aircraft was “floating” and creating an unusual sound just 24 seconds after takeoff, but they were still able to sustain a speed of 400 km/h (220 kn; 250 mph). The aircraft passed above Xi’an City and headed southeast three minutes after takeoff. At 8:16:24 and 8:16:58, respectively, the crew reported an unstable pitch-up to 20° and 30°, respectively.

At 8:17:06, the aircraft lost the ability to maintain the designated attitude while over Mingdu Township, Chang’an County, Shaanxi. The airplane then turned abruptly right as the pilots momentarily activated the autopilot. The stall signal went out at 8:22:27 when the aircraft was moving at 373 kilometers per hour (232 mph). At 747 km/h (403 kn; 464 mph), the aircraft then made a risky left turn and descended from 4,717 meters (15,476 feet) to 2,884 meters (9,462 feet) in 12 seconds.

The airplane broke apart in midair above the Mingyu Township neighborhood of Tsuitou Village at 8:22:42. The bulk of the 146 passengers and 14 crew members perished on impact. The wreckage fell across a distance of 18 miles (29 km) across countryside to the southeast of the airfield.

China Northwest Airlines Flight 2303: A Tragic Tale of Aviation
DALLE draw me the Tupolev Tu-154M of China Northwest Airlines Flight 2303.

Investigation and Aftermath

An investigation into the crash determined that the autopilot malfunction was caused by a faulty circuit breaker. The circuit breaker had failed to reset properly, which caused the autopilot to send incorrect commands to the aircraft’s control surfaces.

The crash of China Northwest Airlines Flight 2303 had a profound impact on China’s aviation industry. Following the accident, all Tu-154 aircraft in China were grounded and eventually retired from service. The airline, China Northwest Airlines, merged with China Eastern Airlines in 2002.

Legacy of the Tragedy

The crash of China Northwest Airlines Flight 2303 serves as a tragic reminder of the importance of aviation safety. It is also a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, as the families and friends of the victims continue to remember their loved ones.


Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_Northwest_Airlines_Flight_2303
Aviation Safety Network: https://aviation-safety.net/database/country/country.php?id=B
The Kingston Gleaner: https://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20220906/already-zoned-housing
Academic Accelerator: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_Northwest_Airlines_Flight_2303
YouTube: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cB3fzQD6XA8