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[Laotian Flag]

(Laos People's Democratic Republic)
[Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao]

The Country

Laos is a landlocked nation occupying a central strip of the Indochinese Peninsula in Southeast Asia. The country is surrounded by Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, Thailand to the west, Myanamar to the northwest and China to the north.

Laos is a mountainous country, widely covered by largely untouched tropical rain forrest. Less than 5% of the land is suitable for subsistence agriculture, even though agriculture provides around 80% of employment. Consequently Laos is the poorest country in Indo-China. In the southwest the Mekong river defines the border with Thailand, and along it's banks is the main area of low-lying land in the country. In the north is a deeply pitted plateau which rises to more than 2000 m (6,560 ft) above sea level. Located within this region is the Plain of Jars, which has been at the centre of much armed conflict. The south eastern border with Vietnam is formed by the Annam mountains, which rise to 2500 m (8202 ft).

The colonial French authorities introduced a basic network of roads, but there is not a single railway line in the country. Hence, the rivers still provide a key means of transport. The principle legal source of foreign exchange is the Nam Ngum hydroelectric plant, which exports a large proportion of its electricity to Thailand. At the same time, Laos it the world's third largest opium producer, despite government efforts to combat illegal drug production.

The total land area is 236,800 sq km (91,429 sq miles) . The largely Bhuddist population has increased from 3.4 million in 1976 to 5.6 million in 2003. The main ethnic groups are the Lao Loum (who inhabit the lowland river valleys) 56%, the Lao Theung (who inhabit the upland hill areas) 34 % and the Lao Soung (a group of fiercely independent tribes - including the Hmong, Yaom and Man - who live in the mountain areas) 9%. The capital city is Vientiane.

National History:
Summary Narrative History

Timeline - Key Dates in Laos History

Further National Information:
BBC News Profile: Laos
Yahoo Laos page
wikipedia: Laos
wikipedia: History of Laos
Discovering Laos
Business with Asia: Laos
CIA The World Factbook - Laos


Civil Aircraft Registrations:
As a French Protectorate, civil aircraft in the territory used F-, until becoming independent within the French Union in 1949, when F-Oxxx was adopted. From 1955, civil aircraft were registered in the series F-LAAA to F-LAZZ. After independence in 1954, the identity prefix XW-xxx was allocated in 1959 and used from 1960, eg. Douglas DC-4 registered XW-PDF. In 1977, the registration prefix was changed to RDPL-xxxxx, where RDPL stands for République Démocratique Populaire du Laos, eg. Y-12 RDPL-34130.

A useful listing of the XW- register can be found here

Aircraft Operators

Military Air Arms:
Current military air arms-
Air Force (Lao People's Liberation Army Air Force)

Historical military air arms-
Air Force (Aviation National Laotienne) [1955-1960]
Air Force (Royal Lao Air Force) [1960-1975]
Rebel Air Force (Kong Le) [1960-1963]
Rebel Air Force (Pathet Lao) [1960-1975]

Central Government Agencies:
All government aircraft are operated by the LPLAAF on behalf of the state

Public Service Aviation:
No information

Commercial Aviation:
Air Lao SA (1952-1961)
Air Vientiane Laos (1964-1967+)
Lane Xang Airlines (c.1974)
Lao Airlines - SATA (1967-1975)
Lao Airlines (Lao Aviation until March 2003)
Lao Air Lines (ceased operation)
Laos Air Charter (1967-1975)
Lao Aviation (previously Civil Aviation Co.)
Royal Air Lao (1962-1975)
Sorya Airlines (ceased operaton)
Xiengkhouang Air Transport (1967-1975)

wikipedia: Airlines of Laos
The World's Airlines: Laos

Private Aviation:
To be added


Aircraft Manufacturers:

Aircraft Maintenance/Repair Depots:
None known.


Airports, Airfields and Air Bases:
Civil Airports and Airfields-
Vientiane International Airport
other regional airports
Airports in Laos

Military Air Bases and Airfields-
Military Air Bases Listing

On Show

Aviation Museums:
The Lao PLA Museum includes at least one aircraft.

Airshow Dates:
Key Airshow Dates


Aviation-Related Magazines:
None known.

Magazine Dealers:
Recommended second hand magazine dealers

Aviation Bibliography:
Laotian Aviation Bibliography - to be added

Aviation Bookshops:
On-line bookshops

Web Links:

Laos: The Secret War
(Detailed coverage of covert US involvement during the 1960s)
The Aircraft of Air America
(Extensive coverage of the CIA's air operations in SE Asia)
CIA Air Operations in Laos, 1955-1974
(History of the CIAs air operations in Laos)
The CIAs Airlines in Laos
(Very detailed coverage of the aircraft and operators)
Lao Flying Service
(Laotian air charter operator)
Lao WestCoast Helicopter
(Laos Helicopter operator)
Aviation Safety Network; Occurrences in Laos
(Listing of aircraft crashes in Laos since the 1950s)

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First Created: 3 February 2004 - Last Revised: 20 April 2007
Copyright © 2004 John Hayles.     e-mail: