An official stated Thursday that there was no operational instrument landing system at the recently opened airport in Nepal where a Yeti Airlines plane was attempting to land when it crashed over the weekend, killing all 72 aboard.
Although the reason for the crash has not been established, aviation safety experts said it underscores the Himalayan nation’s poor track record in terms of air safety.
The instrument landing system at Pokhara International Airport won’t be operational until February 26 — 56 days after the airport started operating on January 1 — according to Jagannath Niroula, a representative for Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority.
When the pilot cannot maintain visual contact with nearby obstacles and the ground, typically due to weather conditions or at night, an instrument landing system aids in the safe flight of airplanes. In addition to using instruments, pilots can also fly by sight.
Although hilly Nepal is known to have frequent in-flight visibility issues, the weather at the time of the crash was favorable, with low winds, clear skies, and temperatures well above freezing.
Although the exact cause of the disaster is still unknown, some aviation experts claim that video of the plane’s final minutes recorded from the ground showed that it entered a stall, although the reason for this is unknown.
The absence of navigational aids or an instrument landing system may have been a “contributory cause” of the tragedy, according to veteran pilot and founder of India’s Safety Matters Foundation Amit Singh, who also cited Nepal’s “notoriously poor air safety culture.”
If you don’t have navigational aids, flying in Nepal can be difficult, adding to the pilot’s workload any time they run into issues while flying, according to Singh.
“The absence of an instrument landing system simply confirms Nepal’s inadequate aviation safety culture.”
According to Yeti Airlines, the flight data recorder will be flown to France, but the cockpit voice recorder will be investigated locally.
On Monday, both were retrieved.
The twin-engine ATR 72-500 plane crashed into a gorge as it was traveling from Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, to Pokhara, 200 kilometers (125 miles) to the west.
At an elevation of around 820 meters, the crash site is 1.6 kilometers (one mile) from the runway (2,700 feet).
Since a Pakistan International Airlines plane crashed into a hill in 1992 while trying to land in Kathmandu, killing all 167 aboard, this crash is the deadliest to occur in Nepal.
The Safety Matters Foundation reports that since 1946, there have been 42 fatal plane impacts in Nepal.
The country’s “difficult geography” and “diverse weather patterns,” according to a 2019 safety assessment from Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority, were the major aircraft threats in that year.
Since 2013, the European Union has prohibited Nepali airlines from operating flights to the 27-nation union, alleging lax safety regulations.
Improvements in Nepal’s aviation industry were noted by the International Civil Aviation Organization in 2017, although the EU is still pressing for administrative changes.
In a meeting with grieving families on Thursday, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda urged hospital officials to hasten the final autopsies of a few victims so that their corpses may be returned to their families.
Authorities reported that it was taking some time to identify numerous severely charred bodies.