Nepal sends data recorders from the crash to France

POKHARA – Nepalese authorities on Tuesday began returning the bodies of victims of a plane that crashed on Sunday to families and said they would send the plane’s data recorder to France for analysis to find out what was the country’s deadliest plane crash in 30 years has caused.

The flight crashed into a ravine on Sunday on approach to the newly opened Pokhara International Airport in the Himalayan foothills, killing at least 70 of the 72 people on board. seekers found the aircraft’s cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder on Monday and combed through debris scattered in the 300-meter-deep (984-foot-deep) gorge, looking for the people who are missing but presumed dead.

A body was found on Tuesday, two are still missing.

Jagannath Niraula, spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, said the cockpit voice recorder would be analyzed on site but the flight data recorder would be sent to France. The aircraft manufacturer ATR is headquartered in Toulouse. The French Air Accident Investigation Agency confirmed its participation in the investigation and its investigators are on the ground today.

The twin-engine ATR 72-500 aircraft, operated by Nepal’s Yeti Airlines, completed the 27-minute flight from the capital Kathmandu to the resort town of Pokhara, 200 kilometers (125 miles) west.

It’s still not clear what caused the crash, which took place less than a minute’s flight from the airport in light winds and clear skies.

Aviation experts say it seems that the turboprop went to a stable at low altitude on approach to the airport, but it is not clear why.

In smartphone video taken from the ground seconds before the plane crashed, the ATR 72 can be seen “nose up, high angle of attack, with wings at a very high bank angle, close to the ground,” said Bob Mann, an airplane analyst and consultant.

“Whether this was due to a loss of power or a misjudgment of the aircraft’s energy, direction or approach profile and attempting to change the energy or approach, this aircraft attitude would likely have resulted in an aerodynamic stall and a rapid loss of altitude if it had.” was already near the bottom,” he said in an email.

The plane carried 68 passengers, including 15 foreigners and four crew members. Among the foreigners were five Indians, four Russians, two South Koreans and one each from Ireland, Australia, Argentina and France. Pokhara is the gateway to the Annapurna Circuit, a popular hiking trail in the Himalayas.

Authorities began handing over bodies to relatives on Tuesday morning, but the bodies of foreign nationals and unidentified people are being sent to Kathmandu for further examination, officials said.

Funerals for the victims, many of whom were local, are expected to be held in Pokhara and surrounding districts. The dead include a pharmaceutical marketing agent who wanted to attend his sister’s birth and a minister from a Korean religious group who traveled to the school he founded.

Hundreds of relatives and friends were still gathered outside a local hospital as of Monday evening. Many comforted each other while some officials yelled to rush the post-mortem so they could bring the bodies of their loved ones home for burial.

Aviation expert Patrick Smith, who flies Boeing 757 and 767 planes and writes a column entitled “Ask the Pilot,” warned that many details about the crash are still unknown, but said the plane “appeared to be a Loss has fallen prey to low altitude control.”

“One possibility is a botched response to an engine failure,” he told The Associated Press in an email.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal said the plane last contacted the airport at 10:50 am near Seti Gorge before crashing.

The man who took the smartphone footage of the plane’s descent said it looked like a normal landing until the plane suddenly made a left turn.

“I saw that and was shocked … I thought that today everything will be finished here after it crashed, I will be dead too,” said Diwas Bohora.

The ATR 72 aircraft type has been used by airlines worldwide for short regional flights since the late 1980s. Introduced by a Franco-Italian partnership, the aircraft model has been involved in several fatal accidents over the years. In Taiwan, two accidents involving ATR 72-500 and ATR 72-600 aircraft in 2014 and 2015 resulted in the aircraft being grounded for some time.

According to flight tracking data from flightradar24.com, the aircraft was 15 years old and “equipped with an old transponder with unreliable data”. According to records on Airfleets.net, it was previously flown by India’s Kingfisher Airlines and Thailand’s Nok Air before Yeti took over in 2019. ATR did not respond to a request for comment.

Home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Mount Everest, Nepal has a history of plane crashes. Sunday’s crash is Nepal’s deadliest since 1992, when all 167 people on board a Pakistan International Airlines plane were killed when it plowed into a hillside trying to land in Kathmandu.

According to the Flight Safety Foundation’s flight safety database, there have been 42 fatal plane crashes in Nepal since 1946.

The European Union has banned airlines from Nepal from flying into the 27-nation bloc since 2013, citing weak safety standards as the reason. In 2017, the International Civil Aviation Organization cited improvements in Nepal’s aviation sector, but the EU continues to call for administrative reforms.

Krutika Pathi in New Delhi, David Rising in Bangkok and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed coverage.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/world/2023/01/17/nepal-to-send-data-recorder-from-crash-to-france/ Nepal sends data recorders from the crash to France

Sarah Y. Kim

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