Kathmandu, March 1

The country’s aviation experts have said that it could be even more difficult for Nepal to get delisted from the European

Commission’s Significant Safety Concern (SSC) list after the fatal helicopter crash on Wednesday that killed late minister for culture, tourism and civil aviation Rabindra Adhikari and two officials from the domestic aviation regulatory body among the seven people who lost their lives.

Earlier in December last year, mentioning the lack of improvement in safety oversight by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) — country’s aviation regulator — the European Commission had given continuity to its ban on all Nepali airlines from flying within the European Union. Mentioning that the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) had still not witnessed any positive change in the country’s six-year-old status as far as air safety is concerned, the commission stated that all Nepali air carriers were still prohibited from flying into the EU.

“Air accidents are very big issues for the EASA as far as safety is concerned so it will directly affect the country’s standing when it comes to aviation safety,” said Tri Ratna Manandhar, former director general of CAAN.

Some major concerns of the EU are that there should be a reduction in the number of accidents and Nepal needs to form a permanent body for accident investigations. It has also stated that CAAN must be split to form two separate bodies — regulatory body and air navigation services provider.

Manandhar further explained that the recent helicopter crash in which the country’s aviation minister lost his life will be a

major issue for the EU. “The accident has sent a negative message about aviation safety status of the country.”

Aircraft of Nepali airline companies have been banned from the European sky from December 2013.

However, Shankar Prasad Adhikari, former secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, said that the

accident will not affect the EU’s safety oversight measurement system. “I don’t think that an individual case will affect their safety measurement, but it will give them space to raise more issues as the person who was leading the aviation sector was also killed in the fatal crash.”

A few weeks ago, in a meeting with ambassadors of various European countries, late Adhikari had requested them to take initiatives to remove the ban and had mentioned that the government will soon launch new initiatives for Nepal’s aviation safety.