Monday, January 21, 2019 | ePaper

Deadly confusion

Aviation Minister, 46 relatives of US-Bangla flight victims reach Kathmandu, Probe launched, 6 air traffic officials transferred

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Some of the Bangladeshi victims of US-Bangla plane crash in Kathmandu: from top left Captain Abid Sultan, Cabin crew Nabila, Nuruzzaman Babu, Pias Roy, SM Mahmudur Rahman and from bottom left- Sanzida Hoque Pipasha with husband and son, Tahira Tanvin Shas

Md Joynal Abedin Khan :
A confused communication between the Air Traffic Control (ATC) of Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) and pilots caused the deadly crash of a flight operated by the US-Bangla Airlines on Monday.
An audio recording of the last minutes of conversation between the pilots of the crashed plane and the ATC shows signs of miscommunication, which being considered as the key reason of the plane crash.
Two more injured passengers of Monday's US-Bangla place crash at TIA airport in Katmandu have succumbed to injuries on Tuesday, taking the death toll to 51.
In the recording, posted by air traffic monitoring website, the pilot and the tower shifted back and forth about whether the pilot should approach the runway from the north or the south. Just before landing, the pilot asked, "Are we cleared to land?"
Moments later, the controller came back on the air, his voice clearly anxious, and told the pilot, "I say again, turn!" Seconds after that, the controller ordered firetrucks onto the runway.
The last four minutes of conversations between the US-Bangla Flight 211 pilot and ATC at the TIA indicates a possible confusion in the mind of the pilot about the runway, according to the Nepali Times.
The confusion was about Runway 02 (the southern end) and Runway 20 (the northern end). Even as the Bombardier aircraft is on approach, the Nepali pilots of other aircraft are heard warning the ATC that the US-Bangla pilot seems disoriented, it reports.
It has reported, at the very outset of the tape, the control tower is heard warning the pilot, "I say again, do not proceed towards Runway 20." And later, he is warned to remain on hold and not to land because there is another aircraft on approach.
After the US-Bangla plane, a Bombardier Dash 8 Q400, apparently takes a right orbit, the ATC asks the pilot whether he wants to land on Runway 02 or 20. The latter responds and says "We would like to land on 20"; he is cleared to land on that end of the runway.
The US-Bangla pilot is then asked if he has the runway in sight, to which he replies, "Negative".
At that point, the pilot says, "Cleared to land Runaway 02", even though he had sought permission for 20. However, ATC too now clears him to land on Runway 02.
Meanwhile, while talking to the Army 53 aircraft which is on hold about 10 kilometres away, the ATC says that the Bangladesh aircraft is "on final for 20".
"The airplane was not properly aligned with the runway. The tower repeatedly asked if the pilot was OK and the reply was 'Yes,'" said the general manager, Raj Kumar Chetri.
But Imran Asif, CEO of US-Bangla Airlines, told reporters in Dhaka that "we cannot claim this definitely at the moment, but we are suspecting that the Kathmandu air traffic control tower might have misled our pilots to land on the wrong runway."
After hearing the recording between the tower and the pilots, "we assumed that there was no negligence by our pilots," he said.
Meanwhile, all four cabin crew members including pilot Abid Sultan of US-Bangla flight that crashed at Kathmandu airport succumbed to his injuries early Tuesday, said Rajkumer Chhetri, general manager of Tribhuvan International Airport.
The three other cabin crew members are co-pilot Prithula Rashid, Khwaza Hossain Mohammad Shafi and Shamim Akter.
Also the Bangladesh dead victims are Rokibul Hasan, FH Priok, his minor daughter Tamarra Prionmoyee, Rafiq Zaman Rimu, his wife Sabzida Haque Bipasha, their minor son Aniruddha Zaman, Nazia Afrin Chowdhury, Umme Salma, Foysal Ahmed, Eakub Ali, Alifuzzaman, Bilkis Ara, Begum Harun Nahar Bilquis Banu, Akhtara Begum, Hasan Imam, Mohammad Nazrul Islam, Akhi Moni, Meenhaz Bin Nasir, Motiur Rahman, SM Mahmudur Rahman, Tahira Tanvin Shahi Reza, Pias Roy, and Nuruz Zaman,  said US-Bangla CEO Imran Asif.
According to the list provided by State Minister Shahriar, the Bangladeshi passengers who survived the crash are Emrana Kabir Hashi, Mehedi Hasan, Sayiada Kamrunnahar Shwarna, Shahreen Ahmed, Md Shahin Bepari, Md Rezwanul Haque, Almun Nahar Annie, Md Kabir Hossain, and Sheikh Rashed Rubayet.  
"I had asked the air hostess, what is happening, is everything fine? She gave a thumbs up, but I could see she was panicking," said Ashish Ranjit, 35, who escaped through a window on the plane's right. "It was so low and it took such sharp turns."
The plane hit the runway and skidded through an airport fence, leaving a trail of fuel and coming to a stop in a field where it burst into flames, he said.
"I was travelling with my friend. When the aircraft was about to land it started turning left. People started shouting. We looked back and saw that the aircraft was on fire," says Bangladeshi citizen Shahreen Ahmed, 29, one of the survivors of US-Bangla plane crash.
On the other hand, Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister AKM Shahjahan Kamal  on Tuesday left for Nepal to monitor personally the latest situation of the deadly crash of the US-Bangla Airlines plane that left nearly 50 people dead.
The minister accompanying with member operation and flight safety director of Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) left Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport by a Biman Bangladesh Airlines regular flight at 11:15 am, a spokesperson of the ministry told the media.
Meanwhile, a US-Bangla flight left Dhaka for Nepal with 46 relatives of the crash victims. "A seven-member team of our airlines led by CEO Imran Asif along with the victims' relatives on board the special flight reached Kathmandu around 11:10am," US-Bangla General Manager Kamrul Islam said.
Even, six officers stationed at the Air Traffic Control Tower who witnessed the US Bangla air crash in Kathmandu have been trasferr3ed to another department to 'minimise shock of the accident', reports Nepal's My República quoting Rajan Pokharel, deputy director general at the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.
Earlier,  the Nepal government has formed a six-member committee to probe the crash-landing of US-Bangla Airlines at Tribhuvan International Airport, reports The Himalayan Times.
Yagya Prasad Gautam, former director general at the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) will lead the panel. The panel has been assigned to initiate an investigation as early as possible.
CAAN has also communicated with Dhaka aviation authority for necessary cooperation, according to the officials.
Also US-Bangla Airlines has also formed its own probe committee to investigate the plane crash, US-Bangla Airline General Manager (marketing support and public relations) Md Kamrul Islam said in a press release.
Earlier, the private carrier US-Bangla Airlines spread its wings beyond the Bangladeshi airspace on May 15 in 2016 with its maiden international flight to Kathmandu.

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