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Loved Ones Of Nepal Plane Crash Victims Demand Safety Improvements On First Anniversary

Battle For Justice Continues Following Release Of Accident Report


By Rob Dixon

The families of British passengers killed in a plane crash in Nepal have spoken of their effort to come to terms with the devastating incident and their hopes that authorities in Nepal will improve flight safety in the country, as the first anniversary of the tragedy approaches.
Specialist Aviation lawyers at Irwin Mitchell represent a number of British families who lost loved ones when a Dornier 228 aircraft operated by Sita Air crashed shortly after take-off from Kathmandu-Tribhuvan Airport on September 28th 2012, killing all 19 passengers and crew on board.
An accident report released last month by the Nepal Aircraft Accident Investigation Commission (NAAIC), which received assistance from a number of organisations including the UK’s Air Accident Investigation Branch, raised a number of concerns in relation to the crash, including:

  • The twin turbo prop aircraft being overloaded by 78kg
  • An unexplained loss of power, probably in the left engine, that began during the take-off run
  • There was no evidence that hitting a bird caused the loss of power
  • The pilot failed to use the correct speeds during the takeoff and in the initial climb, causing the aircraft to stall and fall out of the sky
  • Indications that the crew were not trained to handle this type of emergency situation

Now, one year on, the loved ones of the British victims have joined forces with Irwin Mitchell to demand action from authorities in Nepal and the European Union to ensure a crash of this kind is never seen again.
Jim Morris, an expert aviation lawyer at Irwin Mitchell and former RAF pilot represents the families of the victims with other members of the aviation team.  He said: “It is shocking to think this was the sixth fatal crash in Nepal in a two-year period, yet there have been three further plane crashes reported in the country since then.
“The recent accident report into the Sita disaster raised serious questions about flight safety and the competency of the airline responsible for this flight, as well as concerns over what caused the loss of power and whether a fuel flow problem was responsible for the problems.
“There had been initial speculation that a bird strike may have caused the accident but, on analysing the report, it appears that this can now be ruled out as the probable cause, as the report found that that a bird had not been ingested into either of the engines.  If an engine fails, even if due to a bird being ingested, twin engine aircraft like the Dornier are designed to be able take off, climb safely and land using only one engine.
“The loss of power on one engine should not have resulted in this crash, but the combination of this, the overloading and errors by the crew resulted in a tragic and fatal chain of events.
Angela Gaunt, from Warrington, who lost her husband Tim Oakes in the crash, said: “Losing Tim has been devastating, but coming to terms with it has been made so much worse knowing it was an unnecessary and avoidable incident.
“Three planes have crashed since the plane Tim was on crashed, but these have not been publicised as fortunately no one was killed, although people were badly hurt.
“It is clear that the safety of domestic flights seriously needs to be reviewed and substantial changes put into place.  I would hate anyone to have to go through what we have gone through.  Tim only went on holiday, but I never saw him again. It’s not right.”
Maggie Holding, from Stoke-on-Trent, who lost her husband Steve in the crash added: “I believe this tragedy resulted from an accumulation of errors, none of which would have occurred if more rigorous systems, supervision, training and basic good practice had been in place.
“Mountaineers will always want to go to Nepal and for Steve this would have been the best trip ever but for both of us, the trip cruelly ended the plans we had for many more happy years together. However, the lamentably poor standard of practice detailed in the AAIB report simply should not be allowed to continue.  It is vital that changes are made as soon as possible to prevent other wasted lives.” 

Clive Garner, head of Aviation Law at Irwin Mitchell also said today “In partnership with the families we represent, we hope that the findings of the recent investigation into the crash will lead to a full review of flight safety in Nepal and effective action taken to protect aircraft passengers in the future.”
“We are already liaising with the European Commission in this regard and remain determined to not only gain justice for our clients, but also ensure lessons are learned from this horrendous crash.”
"The families that we represent have naturally been devastated by the loss of their loved ones last year and are still coming to terms with what has happened.  It is too late to save the passengers who tragically died, but their families want assurances that lessons will be learnt from the accident so that others do not have to go through the same suffering and heartbreak that they have had to endure."

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