View Full Version : Another plane down in Nepal

28th Sep 2012, 03:13
Nepalnews.com - News from Nepal as it happens (http://www.nepalnews.com/archive/2012/sep/sep28/news01.php)

2012-09-28 10:30

by Deepak Adhikari

KATHMANDU, Sept 28, 2012 (AFP) - A twin-otter carrying 19 people, mainly foreigners, towards an airport in the shadow of Mount Everest crashed Friday on the outskirts of the Nepalese capital, police said, killing everyone on board.
The Sita Air craft had just taken off from Kathmandu airport and was headed to the small town of Lukla, a gateway to Everest, when it plunged towards a river on the outskirts of the city.
"All 19 passengers of the Sita Air plane have died. The accident site is less than one kilometre (half a mile) from the airport," said Nepal Police spokesman Binod Singh.
"The pilots seem to have tried to land it safely on the banks of the river but unfortunately the plane caught fire."
Singh said the plane, carrying mainly foreigners and three local crew, plunged into the banks of the Manohara river early in he morning.
"There are four Nepalis among the dead, apart from the crew. The majority of the dead are foreigners from Western countries," he said.
Dozens of army personnel had arrived at the crash site, said Nepalese army spokesman Ramindra Chhetri, and were battling to bring the blaze under control.
"I was just walking and saw a plane landing. It was caught in fire and I even heard people inside the plane screaming," a witness told Kantipur Television.
Another witness said he saw half burned bodies near the crash site, a slum settlement.
Nepal has a poor road network and large numbers of tourists, pilgrims and professional climbers often rely on the country's 16 domestic airlines and 49 airports to reach remote areas.
The latest fatal crash in Nepal -- the sixth in less than two years -- could potentially lead to new scrutiny of the country's numerous small airlines, which provide vital links to remote parts of the country.
Aircraft and pilots often have to contend with bad weather and difficult landing strips in the Himalayan nation.

28th Sep 2012, 04:06
Other reports say the Sita aeroplane was a Dornier. Sita Air is listed as operating four of the type.

28th Sep 2012, 05:13
BBC News - Plane crashes in Nepal capital (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-19754204)

Very sad news indeed. My thoughts to all family and friends of those lost.

I was somewhat shocked to see members of the military moving wreckage about so early after the crash??.........unless of course crash investigators have already authorised it, but that seems unlikely at this early stage.

28th Sep 2012, 06:08
BBC 7am news is mentioning the possibility of a birdstrike.

28th Sep 2012, 06:13
From what I saw the tail looked like DO-228, heard it take off, then a loud thump, couldnt see anything from my position though

28th Sep 2012, 06:18
Does look like a Do228. Flew with Sita this time last year.... Seemed to be a great operation. Could this suspected bird strike have caused the engine to fail then an uncontained engine fire leading to the crash?

Would a 228's happily continue a climb following an engine out and achieve desired performance from KTM (approx 4500amsl)?

28th Sep 2012, 06:34
Will climb ok as long as the propellor NTS system works as advertised, maybe a startle factor and they got slow, and yes it was a Dornier.

Milo Minderbinder
28th Sep 2012, 07:05
BBC Radio Lancashire news speculating (based on local comments) that they hit a vulture
They say 16 passengers, seven British

They also said it was a Dornier, and said Sita used the 228

28th Sep 2012, 07:54
Looking at the photo's the aircraft seems to have come down flat with very little forward motion.
Stalled and fell?

28th Sep 2012, 08:20
In those pictures the tail section was at first upright, then you saw a soldier climbing to the top, then it was on its side, very strange.

28th Sep 2012, 08:44
Some more photograghs here.

19 confirmed dead including 5 Chinese in plane crash in Nepal - Xinhua | English.news.cn (http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/photo/2012-09/28/c_131879586_5.htm)

No 5 is particularly sad; it looks as if they have lost a relative.

28th Sep 2012, 11:22
Blimey, fair dos to Dean, you can hardly accuse him of lurking!

I've seen film footage of the soldier actually shoving part of the tail assembly over. I'm not sure the forensics of air accident investigations are the topic of everyday conversation in the Nepali equivalent of the Dog and Duck, so 'contamination' of the scene isn't too surprising.

Or maybe there were enough witnesses who saw what happened (EG birdstrike) for people to assume an investigation wouldn't be needed.

28th Sep 2012, 11:40
Nepal plane crash: seven Brits killed after bird hit engine - Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/nepal/9573450/Nepal-plane-crash-seven-Brits-killed-after-bird-hit-engine.html)

28th Sep 2012, 11:52
Civil Aviation Authority officials said the pilot of the domestic Sita Air flight was ordered to reverse the plane and make an emergency landing after he informed them his front engine had been hit by a bird and had stopped.
They had told him to start a second engine but the damaged engine caught fire, officials said. The pilot decided instead to try to land the plane in the nearby Monahara River where he thought the water might douse the flames but instead crashed into a football ground on the river bank.
The bird was not ingested into the engine, but struck the right hand side propeller. Officials said the impact shocked the pilot who became “nervous.”

....front engine...
...told him to start a second engine...
....Officials said the impact shocked the pilot who became “nervous.”...


28th Sep 2012, 11:58
They must have fired all the sub-editors at the Torygraph.....:suspect:

28th Sep 2012, 11:59
Bird strike is entirely plausible. I once was in Nepal for 2 months and if you look up at any one time you almost always see one of more birds of prey. It’s on many bird migratory routes so rich in bird life. Dean you can quote that if you want.

Spectacular views from planes E.g. many air routes are east west to the south of the Himalayas and international flights into Kathmandu can pass Everest at the same height. I have a photo of it from aircraft window, albeit at a distance.

28th Sep 2012, 12:07
The BBC are talking their usual crap. "Why did the crash happen at the safest part of the flight?"

28th Sep 2012, 12:41
You need to go back to school sonny boy. Taking off is the most dangerous.

28th Sep 2012, 12:46
You need to go back to school sonny boy. Taking off is the most dangerous.

You may need to go back to school, (hint: there are quotation marks).

28th Sep 2012, 12:54
Would a 228's happily continue a climb following an engine out and achieve desired performance from KTM (approx 4500amsl)?

Reportedly 16 pax on board, all on an organised trekking holiday, presumably each with a fair amount of kit ...

28th Sep 2012, 12:59
International air ops to and from the international airport are as safe as anywhere else, the turbo prop domestic side of things seems to be a different story....they operate to challenging airports in often less than optimal weather conditions, weather this morning here was fine, the bird strike theory seems plausible as reported by the crew

28th Sep 2012, 14:28
Haven't heard anything about casualties on the ground. Considering the number of building nearby, looks like the crew went for the right spot to try and put it down.

28th Sep 2012, 16:06
You need to go back to school sonny boy. Taking off is the most dangerous.

You may need to go back to school, (hint: there are quotation marks).

Thank you :)

28th Sep 2012, 16:30
So sad.

I've just heard that someone I knew was on that flight.

You never think (always hope) it will never happen to someone you know.

28th Sep 2012, 19:32
Saw the tv news pictures, in particular the crowds of people milling around the crash site, taking photos, and the army seemed to be dragging bits of wreckage around. I hardly think this is conducive to preserving the scene for investigation. A tragedy though it is of course.

29th Sep 2012, 02:42
Note that the Dornier 228 is certificated to FAR 23 up to amendment 23. That means it has no requirement whatsoever to withstand a bird strike. It could legally be downed by a well aimed sparrow! Once up on a time such aircraft were limited to max 9 pax. The story of how 19 occupants came to be put at risk dispels forever the myth that "safety is paramount"

29th Sep 2012, 02:52
Note that the Dornier 228 is certificated to FAR 23 up to amendment 23. That means it has no requirement whatsoever to withstand a bird strike. It could legally be downed by a well aimed sparrow! Once up on a time such aircraft were limited to max 9 pax. The story of how 19 occupants came to be put at risk dispels forever the myth that "safety is paramount"

The cerification that you speak of is no more than pencil whipping.

The More informative data is service history on similar age part 23 aircraft.

29th Sep 2012, 03:35
Not "pencil whipping". FAR 25 aircraft are thoroughly tested to prove their tolerance to bird strike. FAR 23 are not; which was perhaps justifiable when such planes were restricted to 9 pax.

29th Sep 2012, 04:23
In the USA it was originally certified under SFAR-41..sort of a crossover between part 23 and part 25...later to be known as part 23"commuter category"

29th Sep 2012, 06:57
one engine was certainly caged, the other was developing power to the prop at impact...

29th Sep 2012, 08:35
Our AAIB are lending a hand:

Air accident investigators from the UK are heading to Kathmandu to investigate the plane crash which also killed seven Nepalis and five Chinese nationals.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said it was sending two staff
to Kathmandu to assist local authorities.

BBC News - Nepal plane crash: Britons' family and friends pay tribute (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19767823)

29th Sep 2012, 11:40
I'm not sure why the AAIB are sending a team all the way to Katmandu when the cause is already attributed to Pilot Error? At least they didn't try and blame the poor bird .... and I guess the plane was properly loaded?
Shame on you Senior Ministry Official (wozzat?) Shame on you BBC and Telegraph and any others partaking in the feeding frenzy while the wreckage is still smoking :=

The Ancient Geek
29th Sep 2012, 15:53
I would rather be asking questions than jumping to conclusions.
Did the Dornier have autofeather and if so did it work ?.
Did the aircraft achieve Vmc ?
When did the PF last practice an EFATO ?.
Was the weight and balance within limits ?

There is seldom a single direct cause in any accident, just a list of contributing factors.

29th Sep 2012, 19:05
I'm a bit intrigued by the AAIB sending people. Is that because of the large proportion of UK passengers or are AAIB always on standby to assist Nepal?

The Ancient Geek
29th Sep 2012, 21:38
The AAIB provides a service on request to many (usually commonwealth) countries who do not have the expertise to carry out their own investigations or who need specialist help in individual cases.

30th Sep 2012, 11:40
Thank you AG. But the question remains is this a normal request (in which case I could almost see the AAIB stationing someone in Nepal) or a one off?

30th Sep 2012, 12:44
Was overloading to blame for Everest plane inferno? Photos of mound of rucksacks at crash site shift focus of Nepal crash probe | Mail Online (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2210627/Was-overloading-blame-Everest-plane-inferno-Photos-mound-rucksacks-crash-site-shift-focus-Nepal-crash-probe.html)

Agaricus bisporus
30th Sep 2012, 14:26
Having had some experience with being given overloaded Do228s to fly with a company much closer to home I am surprised that the combination of 19 souls, undoubtably a lot of baggage and appreciable density altitude has not surfaced before.
Doubtless someone out there can provide ballpark figures for weights, fuel load for that trip etc and I have little doubt it might become clearer. Much clearer. The 228 isn't overpowered and a birdstrike (which seems pretty well documented in this event) at low level might well go badly in an overloaded condition. Given a gross overload...

I did like the eyewitness "report" in yesterday's Times in which some bozo said the aircraft was on fire when it flew past him and so he tried to throw a bucket of water on it. Staggering. Simply staggering presence of mind and speed of reactions.

1st Oct 2012, 08:07
Having had some experience with being given overloaded Do228s to fly with a company much closer to home I am surprised that the combination of 19 souls, undoubtedly a lot of baggage and appreciable density altitude has not surfaced before. It was the first thought that came into my mind. Altitude and weight, but so many people get so uppity on this forum, that I kept my thoughts to myself. Kathmandu is about a mile ASL, how does that affect performance of a turbo-prop aircraft like the DO-228? I suspect that people going trekking around Everest, have more luggage than the average tourist.

1st Oct 2012, 08:26
Luggage is limited when trekking as it all has to be carried... When I went to the Annapurna trek I spent 3 weeks using a linen tea towl as a towel! There was the total luggage I took with me, and what I took on the trek which came down to what would fit in my daypack, and a moderate-size rucksack.

1st Oct 2012, 10:35
I flew the very same route back in November 2010. The weight limit (although I was on Tara Air) was 15kg 'hold' baggage which meant kit bags effectively, and your rucksack. Most of our groups kitbags were right on the weight limit. Some rucksacks were heavier than others and although both items were weighed there was no set limit for the rucksack which was effectively your hand luggage. There is much trepidation on these flights about flying into Lukla - so sad that these trekkers and crew never got there.

Incidentally the 15kg kitbags were carried by Nepalese portes once trekking (3 each in a whicker basket on their backs!!) and your rucksack was yours to carry basically as a daypack.

2nd Oct 2012, 01:50
Before getting too involved in the weight issue, keep in mind that the flight Kathmandu to Lukla is only about a 150nm round-trip (depends on whether one flies direct over the ridges or along the foothills and then up the valley). Given the Do228's range of 700 nm, there was a lot of leeway to trade fuel load for payload even with a reserve and tankering fuel. (CG is another question, of course).

Nominal payload max. for the 228 is 5100 lbs, or 268 lbs per pax. (less crew weights).

So a big pile of baggage doesn't necessarily mean the aircraft was actually over gross. We'll need to know the fuel load as well.

2nd Oct 2012, 02:12
Something new ...
Crash: Sita D228 at Kathmandu on Sep 28th 2012, bird strike (http://www.avherald.com/h?article=4569078e&opt=7680)
CAA Nepal and Airline Operators Association Nepal reported on Sep 30th based on preliminary investigation results, that the bird collided with the right hand engine at about 50 feet above ground (about 4440 feet MSL) causing some part to separate from the engine, the part impacted the vertical tail and disabled the rudder. This made the aircraft uncontrollable. Tower noticed the aircraft began a tight turn at that point.

Swiss Cheese
2nd Oct 2012, 11:04
AAIB offer to assist in overseas field investigations conducted by other States when a) Brits killed and b) that local State Investigation welcomes their assistance.

AAIB only have 8 full time and 1 part time ops investigators these days.
DNA assistance from the UK Gov was offered, and apparently refused.

However, the aviation insurers of Sita Air will have hired Kenyons or Blakes to conduct post accident DNA identification and repatriation of remains.

4th Oct 2012, 14:48
If the Sita Air was inded a DO-228 202, you do not get 268lbs per passenger, far from it !! Max Zero fuel is 12,324lbs Empty = 8,243lbs (Approximate depending on specific aircraft) so the max payload (including the 2 crews for this computation) is = 4,081lbs. Deduct the crew @ 175lbs each (Shoes clothing computers, snacks etc will amount for probably 10lbs each) = 350lbs so now we have a max passenger payload of 3,731lbs if the plane was carrying 17 passengers + 2 crew then the max allowable weight per passenger would be approximately 3,731 / 17 = 219lbs.
Average passenger weight 185lbs so average maximum allowable luggage weight per passenger is : 34lbs.
At max Load the Do-228 can take 1,411lbs of fuel translating to about 2.4Hr or 450 to 500nm range (including reserves = absolute max range). To that computation you have to factor in the density altitude (and of course CG), so it seems that this type of operation do not allow for a great safety margin. Can someone enlighten us as to the average weight of luggage the trekkers carry ? Of course my computation will not accurately match this case but I feel that it is very close. You can download the EASA TCDS for the Do-228 series aircraft using the following URL link

4th Oct 2012, 15:23
An organised trek would probably have luggage limited to ~15kg since porters will be carrying 3-4 clients worth of bags.

4th Oct 2012, 21:50
OK but do the trekkers perhaps carry more and leave some stuff at the base camp and carry some themselves ? I bet that they have more than 15KG at the beginning:= of the trip. The other question I have is: do they add local cargo to the flights ?

5th Oct 2012, 09:43
Having trekked in that region 3 times:

Typical trekker baggage is about 12-15 kg per person plus a day-pack weighing 5 to 10 kg. These weights are critical because the porter cannot carry more combined weight (they carry for more than one person and the weighing is quite strict), you cannot carry more during the day and there is no "base camp" to leave stuff in. Persons trekking individually without a porter will have even less combined while big organized groups may reach the upper limit of 15kg.

Where you may have more baggage is in the case of mountaineering expeditions, where tons of equipment may be moved. This is usually done by cargo helicopter as it would simply not be too economical to carry as overweight. However, a smaller expedition to a minor peak could probably be coming in at this time and could conceivably have extra equipment to be ferried over in passenger flights.

Local "cargo" goes up by foot from the trailhead.

5th Oct 2012, 11:16
What do you mean local cargo is carried by foot ?? :}I'm referring to cargo shipments between the 2 airports (Khatmandu-Lukhla) Sita air carries tons of it, just look at the youtube videos.I'm sure that there is much more involved that contributed to this event I found these videos after just a 2s search so I'm sure you can find more...... Sita Air Lukla-Kathmandu Flight - YouTube Sita Air to Surkhet - YouTube

7th Oct 2012, 21:00
The numerous accidents in Nepal begs another question. what are the training standards for pilots? Having first hand experience of flying in Nepal with Nepalese captains is major part of the problems are training , knowledge and aptitude. I am sorry if offended anyone (especially if they are local ) but that is the bitter fact. Challenged with some serious terrain and lack of training standards these accidents will continue to happen. ICAO has to step in because the local authorities are clueless, most them have never been inside the cockpit .
In the in the year i was there 2000-2001 , there were 8 crashes.
e.g of training standards :My chief pilot of my airline lost 500ft + on steep turns on his check ride. No concept what a bleeds off takeoff is . Enter the holding patten at IAF for VOR 02 . turns to right instead of left and loses 300ft.
Most of locals go abroad for training+sims but never do their checkrides . They come back to nepal , get a examiner from anywhere and get cleared .
Fly the Local carriers at your own risk !
if this is situation on the flight deck thing what happening with Engg , Load and trim etal :uhoh:

8th Oct 2012, 21:20
Max Zero fuel is 12,324lbs Empty = 8,243lbs (Approximate depending on specific aircraft) so the max payload (including the 2 crews for this computation) is = 4,081lbs.

True - but MZFW is a structural limitation (how much weight/stress the wing bolts can handle) rather than an aerodynamic limitation (how much weight the wings and engines can lift). In this case, the wings didn't come off. Instead the airplane apparently could not maintain altitude with loss of an engine.

I'd agree that on a short flight requiring substantially less than full fuel, but with a large payload, one should usually hit the MZFW limit before reaching MTOW.

9th Oct 2012, 16:26
May be Jet_737ng can shed some light on how often these planes are refueled ? and what are the cargo loading procedures if any ?? 2 R/T Kathmandu~Lukla is pretty much max range for the 228 at max legal T/O weight with IFR Reserves (~45mins). it looks like they carry a lot of cargo and just toss the stuff inside without any regard for CG and weight. (Maybe I'm wrong but.....)

9th Oct 2012, 18:32
Refuelling was done adhoc. If the tank looked it needed fuel you put fuel . if the destination had no refuelling you filled her up. i think lukla has no refuelling facilities so am assuming tanks would be full up.... At that time there was no load and trim . We in a Beech 1900c did about 12-14 landings daily. We did not fly to lukla only the Twin otter and Do 228 can manage it into there.

There was no preflight medical test for alcohol for crews no FDTL no seventh day.:zzz:.

I was once told by local captain i was too paranoid about terrain .. and not be worried as all mountains in the KTM valley already had one crash ( CFIT) already .. so every mountains quota was over :rolleyes: by the way he was quite serious.

Not making this up : I have taken off towards a mountain at pokhara going south and through out my climb saw radio altitude of 900 ft to 1150 ft climbing at Vx bleeds off until we hopped over the mountain just because i had the nerve to tell my capt it was not safe to do that!

Its time regulatory bodies around the world step in to educate, improve standards etc. This is very poor country . The small aircraft for some villages are at times an ambulance, good carrier, fuel transporter, postman and a pharmacy.

By the way some of the chopper pilots there have done so phenomenal feats of rescuing hikers at way above their eqpt service ceiling.

p.s There is a very thin line between courage and stupidity.

Swiss Cheese
10th Oct 2012, 19:53
The European Commission has been in discussions since February with the Nepalese CAA about the state of air safety in Nepal. Their big stick is the EU blacklist, which travellers are becoming more aware of on this Continent. The blacklist tends to have a self fulfilling prophecy about it too. Hopefully there is some investment carrot too, as things certainly need to start changing. The same approach has been working with Indonesia since 2008.

Cold comfort for the passengers and crew of Sita Air though.

Brian Abraham
10th Sep 2013, 00:02
Anyone able to provide a link to the official report? Searched to no avail. From Aviation International NewsThe recent report by Nepal’s Accident Investigation Commission on the crash of a Sita-Air Dornier Do-228 on September 28 last year at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport (VNKT) cited a significant loss of power during the takeoff run as the first link in that accident’s chain of events. The aircraft stalled and crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all 19 people aboard. The twin turboprop never climbed more than 100 feet above the runway after liftoff and quickly drifted left of the runway centerline, which led investigators to assume the left engine had failed. Despite the loss of power before V1, the crew did not attempt to stop the aircraft on the runway remaining. Major portions of the Dornier were destroyed in a post-crash fire, hampering some elements of the investigation. Although the commission was unable to determine precisely the cause of the power loss, it did initially consider a bird strike. Post-crash investigations did uncover some engine anomalies that may have been related to the power loss. The aircraft’s fuel flows were found to be incorrectly set to produce idle thrust at 90-percent rpm rather than the required 96 percent. The fact that the aircraft drifted left of the runway after liftoff removed the option of landing the aircraft on the runway remaining. Unconfirmed reports also claimed the aircraft’s poor performance may have been related to an overloaded condition.

11th Sep 2013, 04:58
Here's a cockpit view of landing at Lukla airport. Seems a little scary...


11th Sep 2013, 05:03
Lukla Airport Nepal 4 take offs - YouTube

11th Sep 2013, 09:52
What a peculiarly inappropriate post.

Anyway, the accident report makes for sobering reading. As a professional pilot, having pax'd on that route myself it sent something of a shiver down my spine...