The last four minutes of conversations between the US-Bangla Flight 211 pilot and the TIA Air Traffic Control indicates a possible confusion has occurred when the aircraft was landing at Tribhuvan International Airport.
US-Bangla Airlines chief executive officer Imran Asif suspected the wrong information was provided to the pilots of the crashed Bombardier Dash 8 plane by Tribhuvan International Airport’s air traffic control and it caused the crash.
Asif said the air traffic control at Dhaka airport has confirmed that the plane landed through the wrong end of the airport.
On the other hand, the TIA authorities claimed that a possible confusion in the mind of the pilot about the Runway 02 (the southern end) and Runway 20 (the northern end).
According to media reports, even as the Bombardier aircraft was on approach, the Nepali pilots of other aircraft were heard warning the ATC that the US-Bangla pilot seems disoriented and that he should be assisted by radar and taken out of harm’s way, and that the visibility in the hills was bad.
Nepali Times has obtained the audio record of the four-minute conversation. Here is the conversation:
In such circumstances, the English version of the daily Kalerkantho has contacted with several numbers of pilots and experts for their comment on the issue.
The conversation between the pilot of US Bangla Airlines aircraft and Air Traffic Control (ATC) was very much confusing prior to taking on the Tribhuvan Internation Airport, says Maksuda Akhter Prioty, a Bangladeshi origin pilot who is vastly known as the former Ms Ireland.
"We cannot say anything before the investigation process is closed. However, I must say the control tower instructed the aircraft to land on 200 runway as per the request of the pilot. But soon after making the request, the pilot wished to land on 020 runway, which was too confusing," she added.
Prioty told the Kalerknatho: "Later, on the basis of his request, the control tower permitted him to land on 020 runway but the pilot again asked 'is it clear.' On the final stage of landing, such type of things usually do not happen unless any object or obstacle is seen. I think it was completely a human error, though it is tough to comment exactly on this issue unless the investigation report is found."
"All pilots are well-trained to face or tackle the emergency situations. The pilot can do nothing if any major technical glitch occurred during the flight operation," the certified trainer said.
She hoped that the actual reason behind the tragic incident soon will be unveiled through proper investigation.
She expressed deep shock and sorrow at the casualties in the US-Bangla plane crash.
Wishing anonymity, a pilot of US-Bangla Airlines told the Kalerkantho: "Nothing can be said before the completion of the investigation. But, there is no doubt that conversation between the US-Bangla Flight 211 pilot and the TIA Air Traffic Control indicates that a misunderstanding occurred when the plane was landing."
"But, hearing the voice recording, we cannot say exactly why the confusion or misunderstanding occurred. Nobody can identify the actual reason as the pilot succumbed to his injuries now. But, it was clear that he was confused.
"I can only say in which conditions a pilot becomes confused. There can be a number of reasons. Such as the equipment to aid communication was not working properly. The instruction given by the ATC was not clear to the pilot."
He further said: "Or the pilot could not concentrate on the landing process properly due to some other issues like bad weather. Taking control over rough weather is one of the biggest challenges while flying. And if you hear carefully, you will understand the weather was not good at all at that time."
"One more thing, in most cases, the pilot who operates the flight never conducts the communication and the operation at the same time. In this case, the pilot himself was communicating. We cannot say exactly what happened. But, we can guess that something was not normal that's why the pilot started communicating with the tower himself," he added.