Investigation cites pilot error for air crash near Everest

January 1st, 2009 - 12:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Jan 1 (DPA) An investigation into an air crash near Mount Everest in October 2007 blamed pilot error for it, a government report said Thursday.The crash at Lukla airport, about 175 km north-east of the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, Oct 4, 2007, killed 18 people, including 12 Germans, two Australians and four Nepalese nationals.

The only survivor was the plane’s captain.

A report submitted to the government said the primary cause of the accident of the Yeti Airlines Twin Otter aircraft was misjudgement by the pilots while landing at the airport.

“The crew made incorrect judgement of information on deteriorating weather condition and flew the aircraft into a patch of cloud,” said Subash Rijal, a member of the government investigating panel.

“As a result, the plane hit a rock on the approach to the airport and crashed.”

Rijal also said there were other factors behind the crash, mainly pressure on pilots flying the route.

“Pilots fly planes under time pressure neglecting weather conditions and the airports are kept open even during poor weather conditions due to the financial gains for airlines,” Rijal said.

The report recommended removing the rocks near the runway at Lukla airport and stricter guidelines for flying into the airport.

It has also called on the government to install better communication and weather monitoring equipment.

Lukla, located 2,860 metres above sea level, is one of the busiest airports in Nepal with as many as 50 flights a day during the peak tourist season.

With its sloping 527-metre-long runway carved into a hillside, the airport is considered one of the most dangerous in the world to fly into.

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