Friday, May 24, 2019 | ePaper

Nepal is infamous for air accidents

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Kazi Zahidul Hasan :
Nepal's aviation sector has been in a sorry state over the years making it as notorious for air accidents.
Several international agencies earlier warned of aviation safety in Nepal, highlighting shortcomings in technology up-gradation, lack of skilled manpower and poor air traffic control system in its aviation sector.     
A Bangladeshi aircraft of US-Bangla Airlines on Monday crashed at the TIA (Tribhuvan International Airport) killing at least 50 passengers on board.
It is the worst aviation disaster witnessed Nepal in years accidents. The Himalayan nation witnessed more than 70 crashes involving planes and helicopters since 1949.
"Poor and faulty air traffic control at the TIA is responsible for the tragic accident," US-Bangla Airlines Chief Executive Officer Imran Asif told The New Nation yesterday.
He said the pilots got wrong signal from air traffic control (ATC) tower of TIA. The ATC personnel misguided our pilots. They didn't know where to land on the runway. As a result, the plane approached the runway from a wrong direction leading to the deadly crash."
The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal on Tuesday transferred six ATC officials following the allegation lodged by the US-Bangla Airlines.
Monday's crash was the deadliest since a Pakistan International Airlines plane crashed in 1992, killing all 167 on board.
"Nepal is regarded as one of the world's most dangerous places to fly due to mountainous terrain, quick-changing weather conditions and poor safety records," Iqbal Hossain, Air Commodore (Retd) told The New Nation yesterday.
He said pilots are facing challenges while landing aircraft at the Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport, as there is a mountain right behind the end of the runway.
"Every aircraft has to pass over from the mountain while landing. And when an aircraft passes the mountain the pilot has to do a very quick descent. "Such a situation has made aircraft's landing dangerous at the Tribhuvan Airport. It is among the 10 most dangerous airports in the world," said Iqbal Hossain.
He also noted that there are some plain lands on the left side of the lone runway but on the right side there is a deep gorge. So, if the plane skids off the runway then it will fall into the gorge.
Data from tracking website Flightradar24.com showed the US-Bangla Airlines' aircraft that went down on Monday descended to an airport altitude of 4,400 feet (1,341 m) and then climbed to 6,600 feet (2,012 m) before crashing about two minutes later.
In 2016, a survey ranked TIA as one of the worst airports in the world due to chronic mismanagement and a woefully inadequate infrastructure.
The ranking is based on overall airport experience, as determined by voters in an airport survey.
Media reports said aircrafts skidding off the runway is nothing new at the airport. A Turkish Airlines plane skidded off the tarmac on March 5, 2015, forcing the authorities to shut the airport for two days.
More then 160 flights have been canceled following the incident, leaving more than 24,000 passengers stranded as the airport officials struggle to remove the immobile Airbus A330 off the runway due to inadequate manpower and poor logistic support.
The European Union (EU) had blacklisted the aviation sector of Nepal three years ago, after the instatement of Serious Security Concerns (SCC) by the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO).
As a result, Nepali airlines were barred from flying to European skies since December 5, 2013.

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