Kathmandu, April 21
The year 2017 had been considered the safest year for the country’s aviation sector. Not only in Nepal, but even among the international aviation sector the year was considered to be the safest. In fact, international stakeholders had declared 2017 to be the safest year in the world’s history of commercial airlines as the number of aircraft accidents substantially fell.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), improving safety management systems in the aviation sector is the reason behind the falling number of accidents in the country. Moreover, the country had also been removed from the Significant Safety Concern (SSC) list of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on July 20, 2017.
As per Rajan Pokharel, deputy director of CAAN, Nepal’s compliance rate was 66.08 per cent, which is higher than ICAO’s mandatory compliance rate for aviation safety.
Nepal was listed on the SSC list in 2013 after it failed to meet the safety criteria set by the ICAO. Since then CAAN has been claiming that they are gradually improving the safety of the country’s aviation sector.
Nepal has witnessed several major international and national air crashes in the past. Among these, the country had witnessed two major crashes in 1992 killing 280 people. A Thai Airways aircraft and a Pakistan International Airlines plane had crashed on July 31 and September 28 killing 113 and 167 people, respectively.
After that a cargo aircraft of Lufthansa crashed at TIA killing five people on July 7, 1999 while all 235 people survived in an air crash of Turkish Airlines on March 4, 2015. Meanwhile, in the domestic sector a total of 189 people have been killed since 1992.
Amid this, the year 2018 has again showed that the country’s aviation sector is yet to improve. After 1992, the country witnessed major air crashes in 2018 that killed 60 people. According to data compiled by CAAN, two foreign aircraft, four choppers and three domestic aircraft were involved in crashes in 2018.
In the crashes that occurred in 2018, 51 people died in the US Bangla aircraft crash while it was trying to land at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) on March 12, 2018. The investigation committee formed by CAAN had reported that the cabin crew’s loss of situational awareness was the cause behind the air crash. Likewise, among the helicopter crashes in 2018, one person died in a Manang Air chopper crash on August 14, while six lost their lives in an Altitude Air crash on September 8.
Similarly, two people were killed in the crash of a single-engine aircraft of Makalu Air on May 16.
However, there were no fatalities reported in crashes involving multi-engine aircraft in 2018.
It has to be noted that 2019 has also started with a chopper crash on February 27 killing seven people including late tourism minister Rabindra Adhikari.
Similarly, three people were killed on April 14 at the Lukla airport after a Summit Air aircraft collided with parked choppers while trying to take off.
A version of this article appears in print on April 22, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.