A Bombardier Q400 turboprop operated by Bangladesh’s US Bangla Airways crashed Monday afternoon while landing at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu, Nepal, killing at least 50 of the 71 occupants. Witnesses reported that the airplane veered off the runway and burst into flames following an unstable approach. Local reports described conflicting claims by Nepal’s CAA director, who said the Q400 landed from the north even though air traffic control called for a southerly approach, and the airline’s CEO, who accused air traffic controllers of giving faulty instructions. Weather reports for the airport at the time of the crash, at roughly 2 p.m., indicated winds from the west at 9.2 mph, 3.7 miles visibility and thunderstorms in the area.
Founded in 2013 under a U.S.-Bangladeshi joint venture company, US Bangla Airlines flies a fleet of four Boeing 737s and now three Q400s.
Twenty-nine international airlines operate to TIA, which features an en route monopulse secondary surveillance radar installed in cooperation with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to monitor most of Nepal’s airspace and keep track of aircraft. JICA handed it over to Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) to replace TIA's old radar system and CAAN completed required flight inspections in collaboration with Federal Aviation Administration of U.S. and Japanese IT services company NEC to ensure its functionality in November. Plans called for it to enter service in February, but AIN could not confirm whether or not it operated at the time of the crash. Meanwhile, the 26th Steering Committee Meeting of the Cooperative Development of Operational Safety and Continuing Airworthiness-South Asia (COSCAP-SA) concluded in January in Kathmandu. Meeting participants agreed to conduct a feasibility study as proposed by EASA for the establishment of Regional Safety Oversight Organization (RSOO) in South Asia. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in the past has expressed serious concern about Nepal’s aviation sector following numerous air crashes.