The Civil Aviation Authority is taking swift action after an incident on Friday.

Air India A320 Kathmandu approach
Photo: TravellingNepal / Shutterstock

In a statement on Twitter this afternoon, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) said it suspended two air traffic controllers involved in a traffic conflict incident on Friday. The incident occurred between an Air India A320 and Nepal Airlines A319, which had a vertical separation of 4,000 feet, and the former was allowed to descend, forcing the Nepal Airlines plane to rapidly descend to avoid a collision. Let’s find out more.

The incident

According to Outlook India, CAAN spokesperson Jagannath Niroula said two air traffic controllers have been suspended for “carelessness.” The issue pertains to an incident on March 24th, when two aircraft found themselves at a potentially unsafe separation while on approach to Kathmandu Airport (KTM) in the capital of Nepal.

AI213 was operating from New Delhi to KTM and RA416 was arriving in KTM from Kuala Lumpur just before 09:00 on Friday morning. The Air India A319 was flying at 19,000 feet and was given permission to descend for its arrival. At the same location, RA416, an A320, was flying at 15,000 feet and was forced to descend to 7,000 feet to avoid a mid-air collision.

RA416 landed safely at 08:48 in Kathmandu, while AI213 entered a holding pattern and landed safely at 08:58. More details of the incident are yet to be revealed and likely will in the coming days as CAAN investigates air traffic control and the commands given by controllers and undertaken by the pilots.

ATC under fire

Two days after the incident, CAAN confirmed that ATC controllers have been suspended from service until an investigation is undertaken and completed. This is the required procedure in most cases of potentially fatal accidents and the regulator is likely studying why the Air India aircraft was descending at the exact location where another Nepal Airlines flight was cruising.

This isn’t the first time CAAN has taken swift action due to a potential safety threat. Earlier this month, the regulator grounded the entire fleet of Shree Airlines, an operator with seven aircraft, including Dash 8s, CRJ-700s, and CRJ-100s. This came after an engine fire warning on one of its ATR 72s, forcing it to return to Kathmandu with 72 onboard.

Indeed, the country is still reeling from the tragic crash of Yeti Airlines YT691, which left all 72 onboard dead. The aircraft was attempting to land at Pokhara Airport but suddenly stalled and crashed in a nearby valley. The crash, the deadliest ever involving an ATR 72, was caused due to the propellers feathering, leaving no thrust.

In light of a tragic incident such as YT691, it is understandable why CAAN wants to ensure that all safety protocols are being strictly followed across the aviation landscape.

Source: Outlook India


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