Altitude Air temporarily suspends its operation following the crash


Altitude Air has temporarily suspended the flight operations after the catastrophic accident of ‘9N-ALS’ H125 Helicopter at dense SatyaDevi Area forest, of Dhading district at 5500 feet.

According to Altitude Air Official’s, the management of the airline has officially decided not to operate its helicopter until further notice. The Normal Flight operation is anticipated to resume after the internal investigation will be accomplished.

The precise circumstances are yet to be discovered. For probing the cause behind the mishap, the investigation team has been set. The Ministry had formed three-member team led by Joint Secretary of MoCTCA Mr. Buddhi Sagar Lamichhane, Senior Captain Siddhartha Jung Gurung from Simrik Air, Chief Engineer Meghendra Kumar Shrestha of Summit Air.

An H125 single-engine helicopter with call sign ‘9N-ALS’ was en-route to Kathmandu from Samagaun, Gorkha airlifting a patient along with other passengers. The Helicopter which was scheduled to Land Kathmandu by 08:18 AM NST from Samagaun but went missing after it lost a radio communication with Kathmandu tower after flying some 20 miles. The Helicopter crashed in a dense forest, there was no fire on impact, bad weather condition and rugged terrain delayed the rescue team on the scene. There were seven people on-board including one crew.

Sr. Captain Nischal K.C., Japanese national Hiromi Komatsu (68), Nepali citizens namely Dilli Bahadur Gurung (40), Hira Sherpa of (37), Chowang Sherpa (22) and Sunil Tamang (22) have been killed in the tragedy. But, the only survivor of the crash Lho Ani Dolma Diki was rescued and is currently having her normal breaths at Medicity Hospital.

This accident has alarmed authorities on taking initiatives for preventing such accident.

In 2016, seven people were killed in a ‘9N-ALA’ AS 350 helicopter crash 22 kilometers (14 miles) north of the capital. There were multiple helicopter accidents, claiming over a dozen lives, in the wake of a powerful 2015 earthquake when choppers were used to rescue the injured and deliver aid to communities cut off by the disaster. This shows that operations continue to be conducted in violation of the norms for VFR flights, that too in adverse weather conditions.

A relevant ICAO standard for conducting flights under visual flight rules states, “A flight to be conducted in accordance with visual flight rules (VFR) shall not be commenced unless current meteorological reports or a combination of current reports and forecasts indicate that the meteorological conditions along the route or that part of the route to be flown or in the intended area of operations under VFR will, at the appropriate time, be such as to render compliance with these rules possible.”

Additionally, the same ICAO annex also requires enabling the operator’s flight dispatchers to furnish the pilot-in-command while in flight, by appropriate means, with information which may be necessary for the safe conduct of the flight. Besides, it requires the dispatcher in case of emergency to convey safety-related information to the pilot-in-command that may be necessary for the safe conduct of the flight, including information related to any amendments to the flight plan that become necessary in the course of the flight.

Nepal has a booming private helicopter industry, flying tourists and goods to remote corners of the Himalayan nation where road access is limited or non-existent.

The European Union banned all Nepalese airlines following international alarm over the country’s air safety record.

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