Sunday 23 September 2018

Recording from crashed Nepal flight shows pilot to tower ‘confusion’

A total of 71 people were on board, officials said.

Nepal Plane Accident
Nepal Plane Accident

By Binaj Gurubacharya, Associated Press

A plane crash at Kathmandu’s airport killed 49 people among the 71 on board, Nepal officials have said.

The plane coming from Bangladesh swerved erratically and flew dangerously low before crashing and erupting in flames on Monday.

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Nepal Plane Accident

US-Bangla Airlines flight BS211 from Dhaka to Kathmandu was carrying 67 passengers and four crew members.

Police spokesman Manoj Neupane said on Tuesday that 49 people were confirmed to have been killed and 22 injured. They were being treated in several hospitals in Nepal’s capital.

The government has ordered an investigation to find the cause of the crash.

A statement from the prime minister’s office said a six-member investigative team headed by a former government secretary will gather the facts to determine the cause and prevent future crashes.

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Nepal Plane Accident

In the recording posted by air traffic monitoring website liveatc.net, the pilot asked for permission to land from the north, which an air traffic controller granted.

Less than a minute later the pilot said he was ready to land from the south, and the controller repeated that, clearing the plane to land from the south.

A separate conversation between the tower and a Nepali pilot added to the sense of miscommunication between the controllers and the pilot of the Bangladeshi plane before the crash Monday.

“Looks like they are really confused,” one man says in Nepali talking about US-Bangla Flight BS211. “They appear to be extremely disoriented,” another man said.

Just before landing the pilot asks, “Are we cleared to land?” Moments later, the controller comes back on, using a tone rarely heard in such conversations — perhaps even panic — and tells the pilot: “I say again, turn!”

Seconds later, the controller orders fire trucks on to the runway.

Kathmandu airport’s general manager however only told reporters on Monday that the pilot did not follow the control tower’s instructions and approached the airport’s only runway from the wrong direction.

“The airplane was not properly aligned with the runway. The tower repeatedly asked if the pilot was OK and the reply was ‘yes,'” Raj Kumar Chetri said.

Nitin Keyal was about to board a domestic flight at the airport when he saw the plane coming in.

“It was flying very low,” said Mr Keyal, a medical student. “Everyone just froze looking at it. You could tell it wasn’t a normal landing.”

He said it landed just off the runway, broke apart and burst into flames. “For a few minutes no one could believe what was happening. It was just terrible,” he said.

Press Association

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