NEPAL: An official at Nepal’s Pokhara International Airport revealed that the airport, where the plane carrying 72 passengers crashed minutes before landing, did not have a functioning landing guiding system that helps planes land safely on runways.
Pilots who struggle with visibility are assisted in maintaining visual contact with the ground and any obstacles in their way by a landing guiding system or instrument landing system.
A spokesperson for Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority, Jagannath Niroula, told a news agency that the situation won’t change until February 26, 56 days after the airport opened for business.
China helped build the airport as a part of the infrastructure project for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The Nepali government entered into a $215.96 million soft loan agreement with Beijing in 2016 to construct the airport in the tourist city.
Even though the instrument landing system was still inoperable at the time of the crash, according to reports, Sunday’s conditions were favorable, with low winds and clear skies.
An expert suggested that a “notorious bad air safety culture” in Nepal and the absence of an instrument landing system might have been “contributory causes” of the accident. He said that pilots have trouble seeing in the air since mountains surround Nepal.
Amit Singh, an experienced pilot and the founder of India’s Safety Matters Foundation, told the news agency that flying in Nepal becomes challenging if the pilots don’t have navigational aids.
Singh explained that the lack of navigational aids puts an extra workload on the pilots whenever they experience problems during a flight.
He added that the lack of an instrument landing system demonstrates Nepal’s inadequate air safety culture.
Even though the reason for the crash is still unknown, based on the videos of the plane’s final moments before the crash, it is believed that the ill-fated plane entered a stall.
The flight data and voice recorder in the cockpit of the twin-engine ATR 72-500 aircraft were retrieved by investigators from the crash site on Monday.
According to Yeti Airlines, the flight data recorder will be sent to France, and the cockpit voice recorder will be analysed by investigators locally. The crash investigation has received assistance from French experts.