On the 15th of January, on Maghe Sankranti, a passenger plane carrying 72 people crashed near the newly inaugurated Pokhara International Airport. I am not an aviation expert, but what I have heard from some informal witnesses' reports suggests that the pilot diverted the plane to the gorge to save a human settlement because of engine failure. When we think of the plane crash in 2023, it feels like it is a dark spot regarding technological advancements.

Nepal has a history of frequent plane crashes, with several factors contributing to the high rate of accidents. One of the other high-profile crashes occurred in March 2018, when a US-Bangla Airlines plane carrying 71 people crashed while attempting to land at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport. The crash, which killed 51 people, was found to be the result of pilot error and poor communication between the pilots and air traffic controller.

These incidents, along with several other crashes and near-misses in recent years, have raised serious concerns about the safety of air travel in Nepal. The country's small and poorly-maintained airports and lack of proper safety regulations and oversight have been identified as major contributing factors to the high number of crashes.

The government has taken steps to address these issues, including upgrading infrastructure at airports and implementing stricter safety regulations. However, many experts believe that more needs to be done to ensure the safety of air travellers in Nepal.

One major issue is the lack of proper aircraft maintenance; many crashes were caused by poor maintenance of the planes, and pilot error, often due to a lack of adequate training. In addition, many of the airlines in Nepal are small, and they often need more resources to maintain their aircraft correctly. This can lead to mechanical failures and equipment malfunctions.

One major factor is the challenging terrain in Nepal. This further exacerbates the problem of inadequate safety measures. Despite these challenges, it is essential to note that air travel is still the most efficient and reliable way to travel within Nepal, especially in the remote areas. But the government and the related authorities need to improve the safety measures and the airlines to avoid frequent plane crashes.

The government and the aviation industry must proactively address the safety issues in Nepal's air travel if it ever wants to get out of the EU air safety blacklist. By investing in better training, equipment and infrastructure, the government can help to ensure the safety of air travelers in Nepal and help prevent future plane crashes.

A version of this article appears in the print on January 18, 2023, of The Himalayan Times.