CAAN suspends Manang Air operations

Kathmandu, August 19

Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has temporarily suspended the flight operations of Manang Air after an Indian pilgrim made fatal contact with the tail rotor of a Manang Air chopper in Hilsa of Namkha Rural Municipality, in Humla district.

According to flight safety standard division’s Chief Raju Shrestha, the authority has officially notified the chopper company not to operate its helicopters until further notice.

Nagendra Kumar Kartik Mehta, 42, a resident of Mumbai in India, died on the spot after the chopper’s rotor blades struck him on the head on August 14 when he along with other pilgrims were on their way to Mansarovar for pilgrimage.

“Manang Air’s operations have temporarily been suspended for investigation,” a CAAN official said, adding that Manang Air couldn’t operate its flight until the investigation concluded.

According to CAAN, Manang Air, among other all choppers was licensed to operate commercially by the state aviation regulator after they obtained the air operator’s certificate. The AOC is formal certification by the state that the operator is fully qualified to meet the safety objectives in line with the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s stipulations at the minimum. Besides, the certification also implies that the operator’s business plan does indeed suffice to stay out of the red and thereby it remains healthy to serve its safety obligations.

According to the official, a technical team from CAAN has already returned from Humla after collecting ground evidences. Manang Air at present operates two seven-seater Airbus Helicopters.

The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has also formed a four-member committee led by Joint-secretary Buddhi Sagar Lamichhane to probe the accident, the ministry’s Spokesperson Ghanashyam Upadhyaya said.

The other members of the committee include senior captain Dawa Jangbu Sherpa, senior engineer Bharat Parajuli and engineer Yogesh Aryal as member secretary. “The committee has been given 30 days to submit its report,” Upadhyaya added.

The committee will also check whether the operator complied with flight operations requirements-helicopters, the technical regulations for helicopter operations, while conducting flights.

FOR- (H) clearly states under chapter 2 that the issuance and continuation of the AOC is dependent upon the operator demonstrating an adequate organisation, method of control and supervision of flight operations, training programme as well as ground handling and maintenance arrangements consistent with the nature and extent of the operations specified.

Interestingly, complete failure on the part of CAAN’s air safety inspectors to conduct thorough surveillance as well as continued condoning of unscrupulous actions, by the state can only kill the proverbial golden egg laying goose, an aviation expert added.