Panel recommends stern action against NAC departments

- SANGAM PRASAIN, Kathmandu
Panel recommends stern action against NAC departments

Apr 15, 2015-

The inaugural flight of Nepal Airlines Corporation’s (NAC) Airbus A320 to New Delhi slated for February 25 was abruptly cancelled one day before due to gross negligence on the part of the carrier’s commercial and engineering departments, an investigation report said.

The report, prepared by a two-member panel of the Tourism Ministry, was submitted to Tourism Secretary Suresh Man Shrestha on Monday. It has recommended stern departmental action against the chiefs of the two departments.

Senior Captain Om Gurung and Karna Bahadur Thapa head the commercial and engineering departments respectively.

Tourism Ministry officials said that the report would be forwarded to the Prime Minister’s Office soon. Chief Secretary Leela Mani Paudyal had directed the ministry to probe the flight cancellation and submit a report amid severe public criticism.  

More than 130 passengers who had booked seats on the inaugural flight to the Indian capital were stranded due to the cancellation.

According to the report, the operation department had not prepared the maximum take-off weight requirements in the flight manual while the engineering department failed to install the navigation and airport database of Delhi airport on the aircraft thereby endangering its safety. The maximum takeoff weight of an aircraft is the maximum weight at which the pilot is allowed to attempt to take off due to structural or other limits.

The navigation and airport database component provides information on the terrain, elevation, runway length, optimized terminal routes and en-route guidance, obstruction, lights, runway approach and frequency for the flight. Using the onboard system, the pilot can access flight relevant information which is updated every 28 days.

The inaugural flight to New Delhi eventually took off on February 27 after the database was fed into the flight management system.

NAC’s brand new Airbus had arrived in Kathmandu from Hamburg, Germany on February 8 after a brief stop in the Qatari capital Doha. Tourism Minister Deepak Chandra Amatya and other high-level government officials were on board the jet. New Delhi had been kept as an alternative to Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) during that flight.

Despite knowing that the inaugural flight to Delhi had been scheduled for February 25, the two departments did not take their task seriously and showed their inefficiency.

The report has also warned the NAC board for deliberately delaying several decisions of the management. The board did not show any interest in asking the management about the carrier’s Delhi flight plan or it pretended to be completely unaware of it.

The national flag carrier had prepared an action plan to fly the aircraft in October last year. On January 25, the management announced resuming the Delhi service after nearly two years. Subsequently, on January 29, the commercial department had prepared the flight schedule to Delhi.

On March 14, 2013, NAC had ended a four-decade-old history by formally ceasing its Kathmandu-Delhi flights due to lack of planes. The documents required to obtain the flight permission were dispatched to the Indian authorities through DHL on February 15. According to the report, NAC could appoint its general sales agent in Delhi only on February 10, two weeks before starting commercial operations, due to the board’s tardiness.

Published: 16-04-2015 10:04

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