2010 Okhaldhunga Twin Otter crash

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2010 Okhaldhunga aircraft crash
A Tara Air de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, similar to the aircraft involved in the accident
Accident summary
Date December 15, 2010
Summary Under investigation
Site Bilandu Forest, Shreechaur, Okhaldhunga District, Nepal
Passengers 19[1]
Crew 3[1]
Fatalities 22 (all)[1]
Survivors 0
Aircraft type de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter[1]
Operator Tara Air[1]
Registration 9N-AFX[1]
Flight origin Lamidanda Airport, Lamidanda, Nepal[1]
Destination Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, Nepal[1]

On December 15, 2010, a Tara Air de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter crashed in Nepal shortly after take-off on a domestic passenger flight between Lamidanda Airport, Lamidanda, and Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu. The wreckage of the aircraft, registration 9N-AFX, was found in Bilandu forest near the village of Shreechaur, Okhaldhunga District, Nepal, the morning after the crash. All 19 passengers and three crew aboard were killed in the crash. There was initial speculation that bad weather or the overloading of the aircraft might have caused the crash. An investigation into the crash was launched by Nepalese authorities after the accident site was located.

Flight[edit]

Five minutes after taking off from Lamidanda Airport, Lamidanda, at 15:08 local time,[1] the left wing of the aircraft impacted land and the DHC-6 crashed. The aircraft was reportedly scheduled to land in Kathmandu at around 15:35, 35 minutes after departing Lamidanda, but it did not.[2] All 19 passengers and three crew members aboard were killed in the crash.[1]

Search operation[edit]

Helicopters searched for the wreckage of the aircraft on the day of the crash, but was called off during the night because of poor visibility, even though night vision equipment was installed on the helicopters. The day after the crash, the Nepalese Army located the wreckage in Okhaldhunga, Nepal, at an altitude of approximately 2,700 metres (8,900 ft). All 22 bodies were recovered by rescuers.[3] The wreckage of the aircraft reportedly covered 200 square metres (2,200 sq ft), and, according to a police spokesperson, had "broken up completely".[4]

Initial speculation[edit]

There was initial speculation that bad weather caused the crash. The chief executive of Tara Air, Vijay Shrestha, said: “It showed poor visibility at different levels of the atmosphere. Thick haze at lower levels and as thick a cloud higher up could have caused poor visibility."[5] There was also speculation that the aircraft could have been overloaded, but Shrestha refuted these allegations. “The aircraft’s maximum take-off weight is 12,500 pounds, while the Twin Otter’s take-off weight that crashed killing all 22 on board was 12,280 pounds,” he said. “So it was underweight by 220 pounds, the allegation is wrong.”[6]

Investigation[edit]

The location of the crash in Shreechaur/Bilandu, Okhaldhunga District, Nepal

An investigation into the crash was launched after the accident site was located. Nepal's Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation formed a group of five investigators to find the cause of the crash. The five were ordered to present a report on the accident by 90 days after the crash occurred.[7] The cockpit voice recorder was recovered from the scene of the accident, and, as of December 24, 2010, was to be sent to India or Europe for analysis.[8]

A separate investigation was also started into alleged irregularities, which, according to The Himalayan Times included "carrying passengers by issuing tickets in other’s name, not verifying identity while checking-in passengers and the process of immigration of the foreign nationals who lost their lives in the crash."[7] Police arrested the general manager of a travel agent based in Kathmandu over suspicions of tax evasion during the sale of tickets for the flight.[9]

See also[edit]

External images
Xinhua photo gallery of the crash site
Airliners.net photo gallery of the aircraft prior to the crash

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 3 January 2011. 
  2. ^ "Tara Air - DHC-6 Twin Otter 310 Palunge Hill, Nepal 15th December, 2010". 1001 Crash. Archived from the original on 21 December 2010. Retrieved 3 January 2011. 
  3. ^ Hradecky, Simon (16 December 2010). "Crash: Tara Air DHC6 near Okhaldhunga on Dec 15th 2010, aircraft impacted mountain". Aviation Herald. Retrieved 3 January 2011. 
  4. ^ "All passengers killed in Nepal plane crash". BBC News Online. 16 December 2010. Archived from the original on 17 December 2010. Retrieved 3 January 2011. 
  5. ^ "Bhutanese Pilgrims Die In Air Crash". Bhutan Jewel. 17 December 2010. Retrieved 3 January 2011. 
  6. ^ Pelden, Sonam (24 December 2010). "Tara Air refutes ‘overloaded’ allegation". Kuensel Online. Retrieved 3 January 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "Probe commission formed over Tara Air crash". The Himalayan Times. 17 December 2010. Retrieved 3 January 2011. 
  8. ^ Pelden, Sonam (24 December 2010). "Investigation underway". Kuensel Online. Retrieved 3 January 2010. 
  9. ^ "Nepal air crash probe begins, travel agent arrested". Hindustan Times. 17 December 2010. Retrieved 3 January 2010.