Inclement weather, pilot blamed for chopper crash in Pathibhara

Kathmandu, February 25

The committee formed to probe the crash of an Air Dynasty helicopter on February 27 last year submitted its report to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation today citing that unfavourable weather condition and pilot were to be blamed for the accident. All seven on board, including then tourism minister Rabindra Adhikari were killed in the fatal crash that occurred near Pathibhara in Taplejung district.

“The pilot, who was possibly affected with euphoria (initial phase of hypoxia) immediately after takeoff from the Pathibhara helipad in unfavourable weather encountered strong gusting wind along with snowfall which led him to inadvertently enter into instrument meteorological conditions, lost his situational awareness and positive control of helicopter that ultimately led to the accident,” concluded the report prepared by the aircraft accident investigation committee.

Even though the weather in Pathibhara was unstable with gusting wind, poor visibility and snowfall during take-off, the pilot easily accepted the request of additional sector flight made by the passengers on board, as per the report.

“The pilot may have additional excitement to satisfy the interest of high-level passengers onboard.

Without analysing the aircraft limitation, weather factor and fuel status, the pilot took off from Pathibhara,” the report reads further, adding the flight was planned in a very short time and conducted in a hurry.

Because of the weather and full passenger on board, the possibility of condensation within the cabin windshield was probable and that might have also limited the PIC’s outside vision to navigate the helicopter properly in adverse weather condition, as per the report.

“The outer surface of the helicopter’s windshield was covered by ice and that could have minimised the external visibility of the pilot.”

The report has stated various contributing factors to the accident, including unfavourable weather condition, excess load on front bench seat, concern of occupants to escape from that deteriorating weather as early as possible, condensation inside the windshield and icing on the outside of the windshield which reduced outside visibility, insufficient operational oversight from the organisation, inadequate pre-flight planning and lack of consideration on individual load while preparing load and trim sheet.