Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) Chairman Air Vice Marshall M Naim Hassan has denied any rumours that Captain Abid Sultan, pilot of the ill-fated US-Bangla dash model aircraft that crashed in Kathmandu on Monday, had operated the aircraft unwillingly.
"Nobody forced him to fly," said the chairman on Wednesday.
He added that Captain Abid had, indeed, submitted his resignation from US-Bangla Airlines before flying the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 aircraft - the plane that crashed - but as part of the code of conduct, he had to work till he was discharged.
The CAAB chairman also said that airline agencies have to maintain particular working hours for their pilots, and civil aviation authorities were investigating whether Captain Abid had flown after completing his shift.
"CAAB always monitors such matters," said Naim. "Steps will be taken against US-Bangla if the company is found to have flown their pilots after work hours."
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Captain Abid Sultan, pilot of the US-Bangla Airlines aircraft which crashed in Kathmandu, Nepal on March 12, 2018 | Collected from Facebook
Talking about the ill-fated aircraft, Air Vice Marshall M Naim said that it was neither too old nor too unfit to fly.
"The Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 aircraft was built in 2001, and it was A-checked [an annual aircraft fitness examination] in December last year," said Naim.
"The plane, made by Bombardier, a multinational aerospace company based in Canada, had flown for only 19,000 hours although it had a flying capacity of at least 80,000 hours," said the CAAB chairman.
He also mentioned that if the aircraft was not fit, it would not have been able to fly on the Dhaka-Chittagong-Dhaka route that it had operated on one day prior to flying to Kathmandu.
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The chairman said that the black box will soon be sent to Bombardier in Canada, the manufacturer of the dash, for decoding.
"After decoding the black box, we will be able to find out whether the crash occurred because of a technical glitch or human error," he said.
Naim said that the Nepal government has already formed a six-member probe committee, headed by one of their former secretaries, to investigate into the plane crash.
A three-member probe team has been formed from Bangladesh as well, whose members are currently in Kathmandu. However, as per international aviation rules, the Bangladeshi team will not be able to conduct investigations in Nepal. "But our team will be there to give support to their probe committee," added the chairman.
The CAAB chairman said that they would try to find out the underlying reason behind the crash as soon as possible. "We will take measures so that these kinds of accidents do not occur in the future," he said.
Talking about the deceased aircraft pilot Abid Sultan, Naim said: "He was my student in an air force training course. He was a very bright student.
"He had a good track record of operating dash aircrafts," he added.