NAC Airbus A320 grounded at TIA

Kathmandu, August 16

Nepal Airlines 9N-AKW Airbus A320 has been grounded at Tribhuvan International Airport since yesterday morning due to lack of fire extinguisher system in its cargo compartment, according to a source at NAC.

Though the engineering department of the NAC grounded the narrow-body jet to replace the fire extinguisher in its cargo hold till tomorrow, the jet had flown from Indira Gandhi International Airport to TIA with at least 140 passengers on board.

“The aircraft commanded by senior captain Olivier A Mazzoleni with co-pilot Sanjay Poudyal used the only fire extinguisher before landing at IGIA with 143 passengers on board after the cargo compartment smoke detection system gave warnings to the senior captain,” a source said.

The captain was asked to land the aircraft in a separate location at IGIA after he reported the incident.

The plane under the ‘minimum equipment list’ procedure had been allowed to take off for Kathmandu without having the fire extinguisher system in its cargo hold which was fully occupied with passengers’ luggage, a senior officer at NAC’s flight operation department claimed.

According to him, Bird Travels Pvt Ltd, NAC’s general sales agent in New Delhi released the flight to Kathmandu.

Interestingly, the same plane was grounded at TIA once it landed with 140 passengers. “It was scheduled to fly to Mumbai in the afternoon,” a source added.

A senior captain with an international airlines claimed that the aircraft couldn’t be allowed to operate without vacating cargo hold for safety reasons.

“If there is no fire extinguisher system in the cargo compartment, the compartment should be vacated to make flights,” he said.

A source at NAC said it would likely resume flights from Thursday as the officials hoped to get new fire system by tomorrow.