Three killed as aircraft collides with choppers during takeoff

Kathmandu, April 14

Three persons were killed and four others were injured when a Summit Air aircraft collided with a parked Manang Air helicopter and a Shree Airlines helicopter while taking off for Manthali Airport in Ramechhap at Lukla Airport today morning.

The incident occurred when the Summit Air aircraft with call sign 9N-AMH with crew members on board took the wrong direction during takeoff and hit the nearby parked chopper of Manang Air, at around 9:00 am, informed Emanath Adhikari, chief of Lukla Airport. The aircraft also hit a parked chopper belonging to Shree Airlines.

The deceased include Summit Air’s co-pilot Sujit Dhungana, Assistant Sub-inspector of Nepal Police Ram Bahadur Khadka and Sub-inspector Rudra Bahadur Shrestha, who was stationed in Lukla for airport security. Shrestha, who was seriously injured, died during treatment at Grande Hospital, Kathmandu.

Summit Air’s pilot Captain RB Rokaya, Manang Air pilot Chet Bahadur Gurung and Lakpa Sherpa, a staff of Manang Air sustained injuries.

“The aircraft, which was heading to Manthali Airport, skidded off the runway colliding with two choppers parked at the helipad,” according to airport chief Adhikari.

Though the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has launched an investigation into the incident, Adhikari confirmed there was no weather issue involved as the weather at the time of the incident was fine, though it had started deteriorating immediately after the accident.

Following the accident and deteriorating weather in Lukla after around 10:00 am, the authorities closed Lukla airport today.

Though the ill-fated aircraft and damaged choppers are yet to be cleared from the area where the incident occurred, Adhikari said that the airport is likely to open from tomorrow morning as there was no disturbance on the runway.

Domestic airline companies have started using Manthali Airport in Ramechhap as the base for flights to Lukla, the gateway to Everest lately, following the closure of Tribhuvan International Airport for 10 hours every day from April 1 due to runway rehabilitation work.