Site of the Air Crash: Lukla
Barely two years after the Ghunsa Helicopter Crash which took lives of 24 prominent conservationists on the first day Ghatasthapana of Nepal’s greatest festival Dasain in 2006, another tragic crash during this year’s Dasain brought misery to near and dear ones of the passengers on-board the Yeti Airlines on Oct 08, 2008. Eighteen passengers including 12 German and 2 Aussie tourists met an untimely end in the crash that took place in a mountain region of Solukhumbu near the Mt. Everest.
Nepal Government has formed a commission to investigate the Yeti Airlines crash. Yeti is Nepal’s busiest and fastest growing airlines company. Although it’d be too quick to comment on the causes behind the incident, safety and maintenance compromises owing to the busy air-traffic during the festive occasion cannot be ruled out.
Nepal being a mountainous country, it’s a common sense here to overlook human negligence behind any air or road accident. However, past investigation reports have made it clear that compromises on safety measures have been more responsible for air crashes than the difficult terrain or bad weather.
Although Nepali pilots are considered efficient and experienced in their work, a pilot with Nepal’s national airline Nepal Airlines Corporation acknowledged the stress factor due to increased flights during festive occasions like Dasain. Recently a pilot on-board an Indian airliner was caught napping by Air Traffic Control in India with the plane flying on auto-pilot mode.
Nepal also needs to update ground facilities at its airports at par with modern standards to accommodate the increasing number of airliners. The government which plans to promote tourism as an industry should not allow its incompetence in implementing road safety measures take over air travel as well.