Update April 22, 2018

Dhaka 12-35 pm, 09-May, 2021

US-Bangla raises questions about preliminary crash report

Mirajul Moin Joy

22 April 2018, Nirapad News: The US-Bangla airlines authority today tended to contradict the Nepalese commission’s preliminary investigation report on the deadly March 12 crash of one of their aircraft in Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) particularly regarding the promptness of rescue responses.

“We don’t reject or differ with the report, but we have some questions about the findings,” the private Bangladeshi airlines’ Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Imran Asif told a press conference at a city hotel.

He said according to the report rescuers reached at the accident site within 2 minutes “but after talking to eyewitnesses and injured passengers, we assume it’s not correct”.

“If it was so, we would have more survivors,” Asif said adding that it is not either possible to reach the crash scene from the airport in such a short time.

The US-Bangla CEO said most of the crash victims died of burn wounds as the craft was caught by fire and if the TIA’s control tower could have sent fire fighters to the spot within just two minutes many of them might have survived.

Asif, however, pointed out that the preliminary report confirmed that the crashed craft was totally fit for fly as the investigation commission did not find any technical glitch of the plane.

He said US-Bangla earlier also obtained the airworthiness certificate by Civil Aviation Authority, Bangladesh (CAAB) and “so we can reconfirm you that there was no problem in our aircraft”.

Talking to BSS later, he said the US-Bangla recently also obtained the slain aircraft captain Abid Sultan’s autopsy report which confirmed that he was neither fatigued nor intoxicated during the crash, negating the Nepalese authorities’ earlier hunch.

“As per the autopsy report, captain Abid was totally fit for fly” Asif said.

The US-Bangla plane with 71 passengers and crew onboard crashed in a field adjacent to the runway on March 12 killing instantly 49 people two others succumbed to their wounds later.

The conversation between the pilot and the control tower was leaked in the internet within hours after of the accident while in an apparent reference to that tape Asif said the “unofficial voice record suggested that the “TIA ATC was issuing confusing instructions”.

In the audio tape it was heard that several people from the ATC were simultaneously guiding the pilot to make landing turning it to be a confusing communication.

The US-Bangla CEO said, the tower first cleared US-Bangla Airlines pilot to land, then asked him “do not proceed and hold your position” without cancelling the clearance, and at the same time it allowed another plane to land.

“In our understanding, it is a violation of international aviation rule to allow another aircraft to land or fly without cancelling the landing clearance given to previous plane,” Asif said in a statement.

Nepalese media report that their aviation authorities immediately transferred six of the air traffic controllers to unknown departments after the crash. “We have a question, why they were transferred?” Asif said adding that US-Bangla Airlines expected more details in the preliminary report as 30 days was “not that short period to make detail comments for an investigation team”.

But the US-Bangla chief executive said since the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) was involved in the investigation process, “we have full confidence to get an unbiased and details final investigation report” after the black box of the crashed plane was decoded.

After the accident, the Nepalese authorities formed the “Aircraft Accident Investigation Commission, 2018” which published the primary report being obligated by ICAO regulations.

The report suggested an improper two way communication between the pilot and ATC for the last 47 seconds ahead of the crash but did not point out any particular reason behind the accident.

The commission consisted of six Nepalese experts while it inducted representatives Bangladesh, aircraft manufacturer – Bombardier of Canada, and engine manufacturer of the aircraft, a British company.

Head of Aircraft Accident Investigation Group (AAIG) of CAAB Capt Salahuddin M Rahmatullah is representing Bangladesh in the commission.

The Nepalese authorities however found the voice recorder and flight data recorder of the crashed plane and sent the crucial devices to Transport Safety Board (TSB) of Canada for decoding.

“The reviewing of the available documents and testing, decoding, research and analysis of all pertinent equipment retrieved from the aircraft are ongoing and the results shall be included in final report,” the preliminary report said.

Officials familiar with the process said the decoding was expected to be done by May 4 to carry out the “analysis” which could take months.

US-Bangla Airlines General Manager Kamrul Islam and two foreign aviation engineers were also present at the press briefing.

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