The recent report by Nepal’s Accident Investigation Commission on the crash of a Sita-Air Dornier Do-228 on September 28 last year at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport (VNKT) cited a significant loss of power during the takeoff run as the first link in that accident’s chain of events. The aircraft stalled and crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all 19 people aboard.
The twin turboprop never climbed more than 100 feet above the runway after liftoff and quickly drifted left of the runway centerline, which led investigators to assume the left engine had failed. Despite the loss of power before V1, the crew did not attempt to stop the aircraft on the runway remaining. Major portions of the Dornier were destroyed in a post-crash fire, hampering some elements of the investigation.
Although the commission was unable to determine precisely the cause of the power loss, it did initially consider a bird strike.
Post-crash investigations did uncover some engine anomalies that may have been related to the power loss. The aircraft’s fuel flows were found to be incorrectly set to produce idle thrust at 90-percent rpm rather than the required 96 percent. The fact that the aircraft drifted left of the runway after liftoff removed the option of landing the aircraft on the runway remaining. Unconfirmed reports also claimed the aircraft’s poor performance may have been related to an overloaded condition.