Kathmandu, January 18
It was revealed that Nepal Airlines has been operating its 9N-AKX Lumbini A320 aircraft with a dysfunctional emergency code on its cockpit door for over three months.
According to NAC air services manual, the emergency access code on the cockpit door is used for one of the no-go items, which means it must prevent the dispatch of the aircraft if such item goes kaput.
“Override emergency code used in the keypad of the cockpit door doesn’t fall under minimum equipment list,” a senior captain with the national flag carrier admitted.
“This negligence has once again laid bare the state of aviation safety in Nepal, running contrary to claims of significant improvements in Nepali skies made by the honchos of the aviation regulator as well as the airline operator.”
The top honchos of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, including the director general, safety director and safety inspector, were informed about the issue on October 18 when a senior captain noticed the dysfunctional status of the keypad.
“All responsible persons, including NAC chairman, operation director, chief pilot, instructor pilot, safety manager, chief of cabin crew and engineering director, are aware of the issue,” the captain added.
According to air safety standards, there must be proper access to pilots in emergencies – for instance, if cabin crew have to administer first aid to a pilot. This could arise in the event of gas poisoning, rendering both pilots on the cockpit unconscious. So, the emergency access code is used to open the cockpit door from the cabin to help pilots in an emergency.
According to a source at Tribhuvan International Airport, till date, the cockpit door’s emergency code for A320 (Serial No 6555) has not been working but A320 Lumbini has already flown over 1,000 hours.
“All responsible departments have tried to hide the issue,” another NAC captain said.
This borders on criminal negligence on the part of both the NAC and the airport operator – CAAN, that also claims to be the air safety regulator, an aviation expert said.
NAC’s engineering director Karna Bahadur Thapa said he was not aware of the issue. “I don’t have any written complaint about the reported dysfunctional status of the emergency code,” he said.
But, a senior engineer with NAC told THT that they were trying to get spare parts at the earliest to fix the problem.
CAAN’s safety inspector Biswambhar Man Amatya said he would check with NAC and other concerned departments to know details of the issue tomorrow.
A version of this article appears in print on January 19, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.