Pilot's error might have caused Nepal plane crash: Investigators
A preliminary inquiry into the Yeti Airlines crash in Nepal last month, which killed 72 people onboard, including five Indians, indicates that one of the pilots made a grave mistake, leading to the crash. It was claimed that instead of utilizing the "flaps lever" in the cockpit for landing, one of the pilots allegedly pressed the wrong lever, which effectively turned off the engines.
Why does this story matter?
- A Yeti Airlines passenger plane, 9N-ANC ATR-72, on its way from Kathmandu to Pokhara and carrying 72 people, crashed in January, leaving no survivors.
- The aircraft crashed between the city's old domestic airport and the new Pokhara International Airport seconds before landing.
- It is one of the deadliest plane crashes in Nepal, which has a history of such plane crash incidents.
What do investigators say?
According to the 14-page preliminary report, instead of utilizing the "flaps lever" in the cockpit to arrange the aircraft for landing, one of the pilots reportedly pulled controls that "feathered" the engines, reducing engine power to zero. "It is rare for the propellers of both engines to come to a feathered position," one of the members of the five-member probe committee reportedly said.
Human error can't be ruled out: Probe committee member
One of the members of the probe committee said that the human factor in the accident could not be ruled out, per PTI. "When both propellers were feathered, the investigation team observed that both engines of 9N-ANC were running flight idle condition during the event flight to prevent over torque," it stated. However, the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) did not show any anomaly.
ATC received pilots' distress call about no power to engines
"When Air Traffic Controller (ATC) gave the clearance for landing, the Pilot Flying (PF) mentioned twice that there was no power coming from the engines," the report reads, per NDTV, adding that the engines of the aircraft were fully functional during the accident.
Gravely unstable situation before crash: Panel
While describing the crash condition, the investigation panel stated that the plane was in a "gravely unstable configuration" with the engines turned off and the landing flaps closed. It said the rectangular landing flaps on the wings provide extra lift at low speeds during landing and takeoff. However, if the flaps are not extended before landing, the plane loses lift and crashes.
Know about the deceased pilots
According to reports, the flight was operated by two pilots. One was being familiarized for operations in Pokhara, Nepal, and the other was an instructor. Anju Khatiwada, one of Yeti Airline's six-woman pilots, is thought to have operated the plane before the crash. Notably, her husband Dipak Pokhrel worked for the same airline and was killed in a crash in 2006.
What do we know about the incident?
On January 15, at least 72 people including five Indian nationals were killed onboard the Yeti Airlines plane that crashed near Pokhara in Nepal. Reportedly, 15 foreigners were also on board the flight when it crashed into a river valley while landing at Pokhara International Airport. There were no survivors in the deadly incident.
Nepal prone to plane crashes
Nepal, home to the world's highest peaks, has a history of air accidents owing to the weather conditions and airstrips in challenging alpine sites. A US-Bangla Airlines flight crashed at Tribhuvan International Airport in 2018, killing 51 people. In May 2022, a plane operated by Nepali carrier Tara Air crashed, killing all 22 persons onboard. Another Tara Air plane crashed in 2016, killing 23.