Kathmandu: Nepalese investigators have retrieved the black box from the wreckage a Bangladeshi plane that crashed here, killing 49 people, authorities said on Tuesday as the conversation between the air traffic controllers and the pilot before the tragedy indicated a possible confusion over the runway.
Nepal plane crash caused by runway confusion?
The Dhaka to Kathmandu US-Bangla Airlines flight, with 67 passengers and four crew members on board, caught fire after it careened off the runway and ploughed into a football ground near the Tribhuvan International Airport on Monday.
"The flight data recorder has been recovered we have kept it safely," said Raj Kumar Chettri, the airport's general manager, adding that an investigation into the cause of the crash had begun.
The airline and airport authorities have blamed each other for the tragedy, the worst in the country in 25 years, after it emerged that there was confusion over landing instructions.
There were 33 Nepalese nationals on board flight UBG 211, a Bombardier Dash 8 Q400. Others include 32 Bangladeshis, one Chinese and one Maldivian.
Bombardier is a twin-engine, medium-range and turboprop aircraft.
Canadian plane maker Bombardier said it was sending an air safety investigator to the site, as well as a field service representative.
The Nepal government formed a six-member committee to probe the crash-landing.
A high-level team led by Bangladesh's Minister of Civil Aviation and Tourism M K M Sahajahan Kamal is scheduled to arrive in Kathmandu on Tuesday. The last four minutes of the conversation between the pilot and Air Traffic Control at the airport indicates a possible confusion in the mind of the pilot about Runway 02 (the southern end) and Runway 20 (the northern end), a Nepalese newspaper reported.
The Nepali pilots of other aircraft are heard warning the ATC that the US-Bangla pilot seems disoriented, according to the Nepali Times.
At the very outset of the tape, the control tower was heard warning the pilot, "I say again, do not proceed towards Runway 20."
And later, he is warned to remain on hold and not to land because there is another aircraft on approach. After the plane apparently takes a right orbit, the ATC asks the pilot whether he wants to land on Runway 02 or 20.