The International Federation of Airline Pilots’ Associations has declared Tribhuvan International Airport a deficient airport, putting a question mark over the capability of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal to manage airport operation.
Influential worldwide federation of airline pilot associations, in its published list of airport-wise deficiencies for the Asia/West region, has marked TIA on a number of counts.
TIA deficiencies analysed till the end of 2014 by the federation range from problems in radio communication to glitches in intermittent distance measuring equipment (DME) readout, as well as improper air traffic management procedures, that put untoward pressure on the flight crew, thereby affecting flight safety.
IFALPA findings were presented during the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s third meeting of the Air Traffic Management Sub-Group in Bangkok earlier this month. Most of the deficiencies related to TIA were endorsed by ICAO.
Though DME provides distance information to the flight crew, information critical for the crew to plan their treacherous descent to the TIA, the misjudgement in maintaining descent profile by the flight crew of flight PK268 in 1992 had resulted in the Bhattedanda crash, killing 167 on board.
Apart from introduction of “advanced systems” for automation and meteorology, under Asian Development Bank’s loan for Air Transport Capacity Enhancement Project in 2013-14, TIA communication equipment was also upgraded, including the voice communication system. Despite TIA management’s assertions vouching for efficacy of ATCEP in improvement of radio communication, TIA entry into the IFALPA’s deficiency list exposes its hollow claims, CAAN officials admitted.
“Recent Turkish Airlines crash-landing case and the disclosure of IFALPA listing raise troubling questions about the efficacy of the purported safety oversight of air traffic management in Nepal,” a senior Nepal Airlines Corporation captain said. The delay in the implementation of the safety management system in air traffic services by CAAN, ignoring ICAO deadline of 2005, is clearly a testimony to the culture of rewarding incompetent hands, due to their strong political connections, an airlines official told THT.
A version of this article appears in print on September 02, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.