Grieving family members of those killed in Monday’s US-Bangla plane crash outside the TU Teaching Hospital to receive the bodies Tuesday. The bodies are at the hospital for post mortem. Forty-nine people were killed and many injured in the plane crash at Tribhuvan International Airport. Photo: Bijay Gajmer/Republica
KATHMANDU, March 14: The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) has dismissed an allegation that the Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) did not guide the US-Bangla aircraft properly when it was trying to land at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) on Monday. A day after the deadly plane crash that left 49 people dead, the aviation sector regulator claimed that the Bombardier was directed to use either runway 02, using the southern approach, or runway 20, from the northern approach. The aircraft had already made two attempts to land when it crashed before being given any direction for a third attempt, CAAN officials claimed. CAAN also claimed that there were no lapses in the operation of the air control system and other infrastructure.
Organizing a press meet on Tuesday, CAAN explained the communication between the ATCs and the plane’s crew. Sanjeev Gautam, director general of CAAN, said, “The ATC had allowed both 02 and 20 approaches to the aircraft for landing.”
Gautam further explained, “After the aircraft did not take either approach to land, the ATC asked the pilot whether there is any disturbance in landing but the pilot reported it was normal and the aircraft crashed soon after the communication between the pilot and the ATC,” said Gautam. The aircraft was flying at a speed of 130 nautical miles when it crashed on the eastern side of the airport.
“The aircraft entered the taxiway (central part of the runway) of the airport passing between the north-west tower and Nepal Army hangar at a lower height. Then after the aircraft crashed in the eastern part of the runway, breaking the perimeter fencing passing the drainage and catching fire,” said a press release explaining how the plane crashed.
Gautam also claimed that the rescue team had reached the crash site within two minutes after the crash alarm hit the airport. Speaking at the press meet Suresh Acharya, joint secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) said that a six-member accident investigation committee led by former tourism secretary Yagya Prasad Gautam has been formed to investigate the crash and the committee has been given five months to submit its report.
Asked about the blame reportedly put on the ATCs by CEO of US-Bangla Airlines, Gautam said he himself had a conversation with the US-Bangla CEO and they have not received such claims from the company. “We are blaming neither the pilot nor the ATCs for the crash. The accident is a technical issue, so we have just explained what had happened. Details will come out soon after the investigation,” Gautam explained. The Bombardier Dash Q-400 aircraft operated by US-Bangla Airlines had crashed at TIA Monday afternoon while landing.