‘Disoriented’ pilot, bad runway approach blamed for US-Bangla crash

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The US-Bangla Airlines aircraft was misaligned with the runway and its pilot was disoriented and tried to land in "sheer desperation" when it crashed last year in Nepal, said Nepal’s investigation report.

However, Bangladesh’s lone representative to the investigation commission Salauddin M Rahmatullah said the report only blamed the pilot without mentioning the faults of the Air Traffic Control (ATC) of Tribhuvan International Airport.

The US-Bangla Airlines flight BS211 from Dhaka crashed on its second landing attempt at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport on March 12, 2018, killing 51 people, including the pilot and co-pilot, and injuring 20 others.

The investigation report compiled by Nepalese officials and made available Monday said the probable cause of the crash was the pilot's disorientation and loss of situation awareness, reports AP.

The Nepalese investigation report said, "Contributing to this, the aircraft was offset to the proper approach path that led to maneuvers in a very dangerous and unsafe altitude to alight with the runway. Landing was completed in a sheer desperation after sighting the runway, at very close proximity and very low altitude.”

It also said the pilot had been released from the Bangladesh Air Force in 1993 due to depression and was only allowed to fly civilian planes from 2002 after a detailed medical evaluation.

Also, the pilot was under stress and emotionally disturbed and had lack of sleep in the preceding night.

The report also cited a lack of assertiveness from controllers at Kathmandu airport in monitoring the flight path and failing to issue clear instructions to carry out a standard missed-approach procedure.

The flight crew and the controllers also lacked a clear understanding of each other when they communicated about the landing runway, the report said.

The report recommended that assertiveness in such situations become part of the training for air traffic controllers.

It also asked the Bangladesh civil aviation authority to reassess the physical and psychological status of grounded pilots before their licenses are renewed and that all airline pilots undergo psychological evaluation during training.

Salauddin, also Flight Operation Consultant of Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB), briefed reporters over the report in Dhaka on Monday.

He said, “The pilot missed the approach while landing the aircraft. Although the ATC could have assisted the pilot, they didn’t do so. Rather the ATC officials took shelter under the table when the plane crashed near the ATC tower.” 

“When the pilot missed the approach, two pilots on ground requested the ATC to assist the pilot through the radar. But the ATC didn’t take any measure in this regard. Had the ATC assisted the pilot, the accident could have been averted,” the CAAB official said.

He said Bangladesh will put forward some proposals for incorporation in the report. “If the proposals are not included, Bangladesh will lodge complaint with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO),” he said.

CAAB Chairman Air Vice Marshal M Naim Hassan said the pilot somehow missed the approach, but it was the duty of the ATC to assist him. “They (ATC officials) didn’t do so.” unb.

Bd24live/Hk

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