Yeti Airlines crash reports raises concerns about Nepal’s aviation sector

The reports disclosed that the pilots accidentally cut power, leading to an aerodynamic stall and the tragic crash just before landing in the tourist city of Pokhara on January 15.

Nearly a year after the devastating Yeti Airlines crash in Nepal that claimed the lives of 72 individuals, a government-appointed investigation panel unveiled its findings on Thursday, pointing to a combination of human error and a lack of awareness as the primary causes of the crash.

The reports disclosed that the pilots accidentally cut power, leading to an aerodynamic stall and the tragic crash just before landing in the tourist city of Pokhara on January 15.

The service, en route from Kathmandu to Pokhara, a hub for religious pilgrims and trekkers, experienced a fatal accident, marking one of Nepal’s worst aeroplane disasters in three decades. Among the victims were two infants, four crew members, and 15 foreign nationals, with no survivors. Five Indian nationals were also among those who lost their lives.

According to the Investigation Commission’s report, the most probable cause of the accident was the unintentional movement of both condition levers to the feathered position during flight. This action resulted in the feathering of both propellers, causing a loss of thrust, subsequent aerodynamic stall, and collision with the terrain.

Prasad Bastola, an aeronautical engineer and commission member, explained this saying that due to a mistake of the pilots, the engines went into idle mode, ceasing to produce thrust. However, due to the aircraft’s momentum, it continued to fly for up to 49 seconds before crashing.

The investigation also underscored broader concerns about a lack of standard operating procedures and awareness among pilots. Yeti Airlines operated the aircraft, an ATR 72 with engines manufactured in Canada by Pratt & Whitney Canada. It’s noteworthy that Nepali airlines have been barred from the European Union airspace since 2013 due to safety concerns.

The report, submitted to the Minister for Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation, Sudan Kirati, after eight months and three days of investigation, sheds light on critical safety deficiencies. The tragic incident marked the 104th crash in Nepali skies and is ranked as the third-largest in terms of casualties.

Minister Kirati has directed strict implementation of the commission’s suggestions to prevent future accidents caused by human error and operational deficiencies, emphasizing the need for enhanced safety protocols in Nepal’s aviation sector.