February 15, 2023: It has been found that the pilot’s command was changed just before the accident of the Yeti Air plane that crashed in Pokhara in January.
According to the preliminary report published by the Accident Investigation Commission on Wednesday via its website, pilot Kamal KC took command from pilot Anju Khatiwada just 14 seconds before the accident. The report indicates that 14 seconds before the plane crashed into the Seti Gorge at 10:57:32.14, trainer pilot K.C., who was in the co-pilot’s seat, took control of the aircraft. The initial report mentions that there were signs of danger in the aircraft at that time.
The landing gear was opened normally, and during the landing, Anju, who was sitting in the pilot’s seat, continuously sought advice from instructor pilot KC, who was in the co-pilot’s seat. She repeatedly asked whether the aircraft should turn left or not, and KC gave permission to turn. When Khatiwada asked whether to descend further, KC advised against it but suggested increasing the engine’s power.
However, the initial report states that Khatiwada handed over the command of the aircraft to instructor pilot KC at the last moment after realizing that the engine was not getting enough power. The report states, “It is significant that pilot Anju Khatiwada (PF) handed over the control of the aircraft to pilot Kamal KC (PM) at 10:57:18. At 10:57:20, KC also reported that there was no power from the engine. At that time, the aircraft was 311 feet above the ground.”
The aircraft was on the base leg of the runway at the time of the accident, and it had to be diverted. The report notes that the propellers of both engines went into feather, causing the aircraft to be unable to move forward, leading to the plane’s eventual crash into the Seti Gorge.
Only a detailed report will reveal whether this situation was due to engine failure, human error, or other problems during landing. The Accident Investigation Commission has stated that the next investigation will focus on these three issues. It is worth noting that this was the third flight of the same crew member that day. The aircraft was landing using the VFR system, taking off from Tribhuvan International Airport at 10:32.
After reaching Pokhara, the aircraft descended to a height of 311 feet for landing from 6,000 feet. The traffic controller authorized the aircraft to land from runway ‘three zero,’ but the pilot requested permission to land on runway ‘one two’ towards the north. It is unclear why such permission was sought. However, ATC granted permission. Unfortunately, the plane crashed shortly after.
As the commission will require time to submit the final report, based on the analysis and research of the information and data received so far, it has issued a preliminary report with recommendations to enhance air safety and security.