CAAC Flight 3303

CAAC Flight 3303 or China Southern Airlines Flight 3303 was a scheduled domestic passenger flight from the former Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport to Guilin Qifengling Airport, China. It was serviced by a Hawker Siddeley Trident, registration B-266, that crashed into a mountain on 26 April 1982, killing all 112 people aboard.[1][2]

CAAC Flight 3303
CAAC Trident Söderström.jpg
A CAAC Hawker Siddeley Trident similar to the one involved.
Date26 April 1982
SummaryControlled flight into terrain
SiteNear Yangshuo, Guangxi, China
Aircraft typeHawker Siddeley Trident
OperatorCAAC Airlines, Guangzhou division (now China Southern Airlines)
Flight originGuangzhou Baiyun International Airport (former), China
DestinationGuilin Qifengling Airport, China

Aircraft and crewEdit

The crashed aircraft was a Hawker Siddeley Trident 2E that first flew in 1975.[3] The aircraft was owned by the Air Force but was operated by CAAC Airlines, Guangzhou division (now China Southern Airlines).[1][4] The captain, Chen Huaiyao, was an experienced Chinese Air Force Trident pilot who had joined the Guangzhou General Administration of Civil Aviation of China in 1982. It was his first flight to Guilin. Co-pilot Chen Zaiwen, 31, had served in the Chinese Army and Air Force.


At 16:45, as Flight 3303 was on approach to the airport in heavy rain, the crew wanted a north-to-south approach. The airport had no radar; the air traffic controller proceeded to misjudge the distance of the aircraft from the airport, and directed the flight to descend prematurely. The plane flew into a mountain near the town of Yangshuo, exploding and breaking up on impact. The accident killed all 112 people on board.[5]

After the accident, Yangshuo County ordered 67 militiamen to protect the crash site.[6] A Hong Kong Observatory spokesman said at the time that the Guangzhou-Guilin area had been affected by severe weather since 25 April.[7]


Passengers and crew by nationality
Nationality Passengers Crew Total
China 45 8 53
Hong Kong 52 0 52
United States 2 0 2
Unknown 5 0 5
Total 104 8 112

Source: Guilin Evening News,[2] Aviation Safety Network[5]

The Chinese government sent nearly 1,000 troops of the People's Liberation Army to the crash site to search for survivors. The operation ended after more than a week.[2]

There were 52 people from Hong Kong on board, 37 of whom were part of a tour group.[4] The dead included American entomologist Judson Linsley Gressitt and his wife as well as Hong Kong TVB artist Mak Dai-Shing [zh], his wife and father-in-law's family.[2] An unconfirmed report stated that several Japanese passengers were on board.[7] Due to the explosion on impact, many bodies were highly fragmented.[2]


The Civil Aviation Administration of China and the Guangdong Provincial Government investigated the accident.[2][7] The likely reason for the crash was poor crew resource management, as well as inadequate and erroneous communication from air traffic control. The captain had no experience in flying the Guilin route, and the area is noted for limestone cliffs that make landing hazardous.[1]

Autopilot error was another likely reason for the accident as the CAAC noted that the aircraft began to bank. The flight crew only realized these issues when the aircraft was banked 45 degrees. However, they mistook the data and continued to turn the yoke. The aircraft entered a bank of 180 degrees and crashed into the mountain.[2]


After the air crash, more than 40 victims were buried in a tomb located in section 022 of the Shenzhen Dapeng Bay Overseas Chinese Cemetery. The headstones have photos of the victims and their nationality.[8] The words "April 26 Air Crash Cemetery" are written on it.[9] The tombstone was provided free of charge by a Hong Kong investor in the cemetery named Mr. Liang. He also helped the families of the victims to pay nearly one million yuan in transportation and meals.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c 1981年以来中国民航重大事故介绍 [Introduction to China's Civil Aviation Major Accidents Since 1981]. (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 19 July 2013. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "1982 "4·26"桂林空难 – 专题信息" [1982 "April 26" Guilin Air Crash – Special Information]. (in Chinese). Guilin Life Net News Center. 4 September 2009. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
  3. ^ "De Havilland's DH121 Trident production list". Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  4. ^ a b Zhongqiang, Wang. ""三叉戟"四十年" [Forty Years of "Trident"]. "Fly Around the World" Magazine (in Chinese). Air Force Wings. Archived from the original on 26 April 2009. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  5. ^ a b Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Hawker Siddeley HS-121 Trident 2E B-266 Yangsuo". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  6. ^ "第四节 活动" [Section 4 Activities]. (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  7. ^ a b c "Chinese Jetliner Crashes; 112 Dead". Observer-Reporter. Peking. Associated Press. 28 April 1982. pp. A-8. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  8. ^ Junhui, Xiong; Ling, Zeng (6 April 2007). "深圳墓園裏的港人故事" [The story of Hong Kong people in Shenzhen Cemetery]. Wen Wei Po (in Chinese). Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  9. ^ "逾44万人清明扫墓三大墓园道路拥堵" [More than 440,000 tombs were congested in the three major cemeteries]. (in Chinese). Aoyiwang. 5 April 2009. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 30 April 2011.

External linksEdit