A preliminary report published by the Nepalese investigation commission said there was a communication gap between Tribhuvan Airport Air Traffic Control (ATC) and the pilot in the last minute before US-Bangla Airlines flight BS-211 crashed on March 12.
The report read: “Two-way communication between the aircraft and the approach as well as tower control was normal until 8:32:58am UTC (2:17:58pm Kathmandu time). Thereafter, a few transmissions were made by both ATC and the Pilot until 8:33:45am UTC (2:18:45pm Kathmandu time), but no corresponding replies or acknowledgements were made from either side.”
The probe body, named the “Aircraft Accident Investigation Commission, 2018 on the Aircraft Accident at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, Nepal on 12 March, 2018,” completed the five-page preliminary probe report on April 9, and made it public on Thursday.
The report was prepared based on the initial information gathered from the crash site of the DHC-8 Q 400 aircraft owned and operated by US-Bangla Airlines Ltd and the documents so far obtained from all authorities and organizations involved.
According to the report, the aircraft was on an approach to land at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) when it crashed in the eastern part of the field of Runway 2, just outside the inner perimeter fence of the aerodrome.
“The aircraft was scheduled to arrive from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka, Bangladesh with 67 passengers and four crew members onboard. The aircraft crashed at 8:34:10am UTC (2:19:10pm Kathmandu time) causing total fatality of 51 people at the time of preparation of this report (April 9, 2018). At the crash site, the aircraft was found mostly burnt and completely damaged, as it caught fire that engulfed major portions of aircraft at the point of its resting,” the report said.
According to eye witnesses and statements submitted by rescue workers, the rescue and firefighting team immediately rushed to the crash site, fought the fire and rescued survivors with utmost efficiency.
The Government of Nepal formed the Aircraft Accident Investigation Commission on March 12, 2018, as per the existing Civil Aviation (Accident Investigation) Regulation 2016 of Nepal. The notification of accident was sent to applicable national and international authorities as per Chapter 4, Section 4.1 of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Annex 13.
The process of Investigation is ongoing and, in the interest of accident prevention, the commission shall make the final report publicly available as per the provisions outlined in Chapter 6, Section 6.5 of ICAO Annex 13, the report said.
The reviewing of the available documents and testing, decoding, research and analysis of all pertinent equipment retrieved from the aircraft is ongoing and the results shall be included in final report, it added.
The commission is collecting and analyzing all the evidence and the relevant documents for necessary investigation. Aircraft equipment such as the PSEU, EGPWS, EMU, QAR, CVR and DFDR have been received by TSB Canada for downloading, decoding, readouts and analysis.
If the report cannot be made publicly available within twelve months, the commission shall, in conformance with Chapter 6, Section 6.6 of ICAO Annex 13, make an interim statement publicly available on each anniversary of the occurrence, detailing the progress of the investigation and any safety issues raised.
Bangladesh has so far provided more than 200 documents, including those of the flight’s pilot and co-pilo,t to the Nepal authorities to facilitate the investigation.
A six-member team from Bangladesh led by Salahuddin M Rahmatullah, chief captain of the Aircraft Accident Investigation Group of Bangladesh, went to Nepal to assist the Nepal probe body on March 18 and stayed there until March 27.