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Why are there so many plane crashes in Nepal?

Four passengers still missing in Nepal’s deadly plane crash. Hundreds of rescue workers have started searching for them for the second day on Monday. The accident has once again highlighted the dangers of air travel in Nepal. The country is said to be one of the most dangerous for aviation. Plane crash in Nepal is a common fact.

Plane crash in Nepal

Yeti Airlines plane crashed near Pokhara airport on Sunday. The bodies of 68 of the 72 passengers of the plane have been recovered. Finally authorities said none of the others are expected to survive.

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It is the Himalayan country’s deadliest plane crash in 30 years. According to the Aviation Safety Network, this is the third deadliest plane crash in Nepal’s history.

Weather vagaries, limited visibility and mountainous terrain have given Nepal the reputation of being one of the most dangerous countries to fly by air, experts say.

The Yeti Airlines flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara was about to land shortly after it lost contact with the control tower. According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, there were 15 foreign passengers on board the aircraft.

The lakeside town of Pokhara is a popular tourist destination. The city is also known as the gateway to the Himalayas. The famous Annapurna Circuit trekking route starts from this city. In 2019, more than 1 lakh 81 thousand foreign tourists visited the area.

A government committee, assisted by French authorities, is investigating the cause of the crash. The Yeti Airlines aircraft was manufactured by aircraft manufacturer ATR. The company is headquartered in France.

‘Adverse Topography’

Rapidly changing weather is not the only problem with flying in Nepal. According to a 2019 safety report by the country’s Civil Aviation Authority, the country’s “adverse topography” is also part of the problem. And the pilots have to face these ‘massive challenges’.

The population of Nepal is 29 million. 8 of the 14 highest mountains in the world, including Everest, are located in the country. The beauty of high and low natural landscapes has made Nepal a popular tourist destination for mountaineers.

However, in this mountainous terrain, it becomes difficult to maneuver aircraft, especially during adverse weather conditions. Matters are further complicated by the need to use small aircraft to access the more remote and mountainous parts of the country.

Aircraft with 19 or fewer seats are at a higher risk of accidents due to these challenges, according to a report by the Civil Aviation Authority. The capital Kathmandu is the primary hub of Nepal’s transportation system. From now on, most small aircraft operate.

The airport in Lukla, a city in northeastern Nepal, is often called the world’s scariest airport. It is also known as the gateway to Everest. The airport’s runways are located on the slopes of two high hills. The runway ended straight down to a deep ditch. This airport has seen several fatal accidents in the past years including 2008 and 2019.

This risk to airspace is exacerbated by the lack of adequate investment to phase out older aircraft.

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

The United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) prioritized cooperation with Nepal in 2015 through its Aviation Safety Implementation Partnership.

After two years, ICAO and Nepal announced to work on a partnership basis to address safety concerns. The country has improved its safety standards in recent years. However, some challenges still remain.

In May last year, a Tara Air plane crashed into a mountain. In that accident, 22 passengers were killed on the way from Pokhara to Jamson, a popular tourist area. Another Tara Air plane crashed in 2016 on the same route as the ‘Twin Otter’ plane.

In addition, in early 2018, a US-Bangla Airlines flight from Dhaka to Kathmandu caught fire when it crashed during landing. 51 out of 71 passengers were killed.

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