Human error caused chopper crash: Report

Kathmandu, October 20:

The commission formed to probe into the Shree Airlines chopper crash of September 23 in Ghunsa of Taplejung, in its interim report said that the pilot had entered the cloud and tried to find out the actual path instead of maintaining the safe altitude, resulting in a crash that killed 24 persons abroad.

Submitting its interim report to the government at a press conference today, the commission, headed by appellate court judge Keshari Raj Pandit, found that the ill-fated 9N-AHJ (MI-17) helicopter was “not certified” for Instrumental Flight Rule (IFR), and thus “entering into a cloud in such a terrain was not a good judgment.”

Quoting the local people of Ghunsa, the report said that the weather condition of Ghunsa was cloudy and the hills were covered up with frequent light rain at the time of the chopper’s departure.

Though the take-off weight for the flight from Ghunsa was not out of limit, take-off from a high altitude helipad with high rate of climb in such a bad weather at mid-day with unstable wind conditions was “poor judgment” on the part of the crew members, the report said.

The pilot in command Captain Kim Klim was flying to Ghunsa for the first time and was not familiar with the terrain and the surrounding hills of Ghunsa.

“Flights at high altitudes during monsoon and bad weather condition should be conducted by experienced pilots familiar to the terrain and weather condition,” the commission suggested.

The flight data report (FDR) found out that the chopper first hit the hill side after two minutes 58 seconds from take-off and immediately caught fire and two seconds later dropped at the altitude of 4033 meters.

The investigation, however, has not found any “evidence of unlawful interference.”

The commission has suggested the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) and the airlines operators that any aircraft certified for visual flight rules (VFR) should not enter into clouds. The commission is supposed to submit the final report to the government within a month from today.

Meanwhile, today’s cabinet meeting discussed on building memorial monument of

those who died in the chopper crash, including late minister Gopal Rai, in Ghunsa and Godavari of Lalitpur. The cabinet meeting also discussed on extending financial help to the families of the deceased.

Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation Pradeep Gyawali informed that the government has already handed over Rs 200,000 to 36 people of Ghunsa who helped in the rescue operation.

Need to make air travel safe stressed

Kathmandu: The Nepal Air Traffic Controller’s Association (NATCA) has been working to make the air transportation safe, regular and reliable in Nepal since its establishment in the year 1991. Addressing a programme organised to mark the International Air Traffic Controller’s Day here on Friday, participants stressed on the need to implement the capacity and skill of the existing technical, physical and human resource in the air travel service in order to make it reliable and safe.

Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Pradeep Gyawali stressed on the need to make the air travel management further efficient due to the country’s geographical and climatic diversity. He also issued instructions to make no consideration when it comes about the technical aspect of the air travel. He added that the government was fully committed for promotion and development of the air service. He said government is all set to introduce a new regulation for reforms of the civil aviation. The International Air Traffic Controller’s Association was formed by the initiatives of 12 countries on October 20, 1961.

In Nepal, some 250 airplanes land and take off from the Tribhuvan International Airport daily.

Minister Gyawali felicitated officials rendering significant contribution for the welfare and development of the NATCA and also launched a book authored by Bimal Subedi.— RSS