An aid worker who spent two decades helping people around the globe has been described as one of the world's best men after he and his father were among six Australians killed in a plane crash in Laos.

A Sydney family was also among the 44 passengers and five crew killed when Lao Airlines flight QV301 crashed into the Mekong River trying to land at Pakse Airport in what the airline called extreme weather yesterday afternoon.

Michael Creighton had been working in Laos for almost a year as an operations manager for Norwegian People's Aid's mine action programme, and his father Gordon was visiting him to experience his son's humanitarian work.

Sydney tax agent Gavin Rhodes, 39, his wife Phoumalaysy (Lea) Rhodes, 35, and their children 17-month-old Manfred Rhodes and 3-year-old Jadesuda Rhodes also died in the crash.


A Rhodes family representative issued a statement asking the media to "respect their privacy at this difficult time".

The Creighton family said it had "lost a father, a husband, a son, a brother, a fiance and a best mate in one tragic circumstance".

Michael Creighton's ex-wife, former Tasmanian MP Kathryn Hay, said the world had lost one of its best men.

"He travelled the world, assisting people in so many ways. He was so intelligent and dedicated to work," she told the ABC.

Michael, 42, spent the past 20 years working on aid projects around the world, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, Switzerland, Cambodia and Africa, mostly in landmine clearance.

The Lao Aviation Authority said strong winds hit the small aircraft - an ATR-72 twin-engine turboprop plane - as it approached Pakse airport.

French-Italian aircraft manufacturer ATR said the plane was new and had been delivered in March.