A Bombardier Dash Q-400 aircraft operated by US-Bangla Airlines crashed while landing at the Tribhuvan International Airport on Monday afternoon. As of this writing, more than 49 people have been confirmed dead. A total of 67 passengers and four crew members were onboard. At least 33 passengers were Nepalis and 13 of them have been confirmed dead. This tragedy has once again exposed Nepal’s travel safety. In the last seven years, Nepal saw 15 aviation incidents leading to the death of 134 people. We have seen at least one air crash every year in the last seven years. This is scary and the government must do more to ensure air safety in Nepal. It is learned that a majority of the 33 Nepali passengers were medical students studying in Bangladesh and were on their way home for holidays. Many from travel industry were on their way home from a tourism-related meeting in Bangladesh. Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli visited the crash site at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) and vowed all the support for rescue and called for immediate investigation of the incident. This is a good gesture. And we hope he will keep his words.
From the conversation between the air traffic control and the pilot, there appears to have been confusion over whether to land in runway 02 or runway 20. One can also hear Nepali pilots talking in Nepali to alert the US-Bangala pilot to divert as they suspect him being disoriented and that he might hit a hill. Eyewitnesses say ambulance arrived at the scene only after ten minutes when Nepali Army was already at the scene. Maybe more lives could have been saved if we were better prepared to handle incidents like these at our international airport.
We hear forming of investigation after each tragedy. Media carries big headlines and the concerned authorities seem to get to work to improve the status quo. However, this all disappears after a while. Everyone moves on. Innocent lives were lost on Monday. The families of the dead will have to live with the pain for the rest of their lives. We, as a country, can and must do more to ensure aviation safety. If we can only implement recommendations from the past commissions, we could significantly improve air safety. We have the only international airport in the middle of our capital city. This only underscores the need for another bigger international airport away from the city. At this tragic moment, we extend condolences to the bereaved families and pray that the departed soul rest in peace. We also strongly urge the concerned authorities to ensure that such a tragic incident will never ever be repeated in the future.