Aviation

Pilot was smoking in cockpit of plane that crashed and killed 51 people: report

A report into a plane crash that killed 51 people last year in Nepal has found that the pilot had been smoking in the cockpit, and that his mental and emotional state played a part.

The US-Bangala Airlines flight carrying 71 people from Bangladesh crashed upon landing and burst into flames at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu on 12 March 2018. It was the deadliest aviation disaster involving a Bangladeshi airline.

According to the final accident report by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, the plane’s captain, Abid Sultan – who survived the crash but died of injuries a few hours later – was smoking in the cockpit during the flight.

The report said that Sultan, who was a former Bangladesh Air Force pilot, was also struggling mentally and emotionally.

“When we analysed the conversation on the cockpit voice recorder, it was clear to us that the captain was harbouring severe mental stress,” the report said.

“He also seemed to be fatigued and tired due to lack of sleep. He was crying on several occasions.”

The report also found that Sultan was “engaged in unnecessary, unprofessional and lengthy conversation even in the critical phase”, noting that he was verbally abusive towards a female colleague who had questioned his reputation as an instructor during the flight.

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