On 28 September 2012 a Sita Air Dornier 228-202 crashed shortly after take-off from Kathmandu, Nepal, killing all 19 persons on board, including seven Britons. This was the sixth fatal plane crash in the country in the past two years.

The accident report for this accident highlighted a disturbing chain of events.  In particular:

  • The aircraft exceeded its maximum take-off weight by at least 78kg.
  • The pilots used the wrong speeds for take off.
  • There was a loss of power in the left engine, although the cause of this has not been identified
  • The remains of a bird were found on the runway – there is no evidence that any part of the bird was ingested into the engine.
  • The aircraft operator had set the flight idle fuel flow rate at a lower rate than required in the aircraft manuals. This could result in increased drag during flight if an engine was at flight idle.
  • The crew did not practice engine emergencies during the take-off and initial climb in flight simulators.  As such the report states that the crew were faced with circumstances that they were not fully trained to deal with.

The failings identified in this accident report are very concerning.

The Irwin Mitchell aviation team represents a number of British families who lost loved ones. The team has progressed their legal cases in England and has secured an admission of liability from the tour package provider, Explore Worldwide Ltd.  The aviation team also liaised with the European Transport Commission on the poor flight safety in Nepal and the Commission subsequently blacklisted all Nepalese airlines from flying in EU airspace.

Following publication of the accident report there was an inquest in April 2014, at which Irwin Mitchell represented families. After hearing the evidence of the catalogue of flight safety failings, how the deceased passengers would have not flown with Sita Air if they had been provided more information when booking the holiday and following representations from us on what action should be taken to help prevent further deaths, the Coroner issued a Regulation 28 Report to the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) and Explore.  The Report highlighted the Coroner’s concerns about travel companies continuing to use blacklisted air operators and what action ABTA will take in respect of such bookings and the fact that Explores brochures did not warn travellers of the potential dangers of exceeding baggage allowances when flying with local air operators.

If you would like to speak in confidence to an expert regarding this accident, or any other aviation incident you were involved in, please contact a member of the aviation team on 0800 056 4110. The team will be able to advise you on the accident, the relevant law and the parties who may be liable.

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