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Oops: Nepalese airline flies passengers to the wrong airport!

December 24, 2020 Aviation, Headline News No Comments

According to an article in Simple Flying by Chris Loh, just ts last week, passengers on a Buddha Air flight from Kathmandu to Janakpur landed in Pokhara instead of their intended destination.

What was the reason for landing at the wrong airport?

It appears to have been human error, with a mix-up due to a lack of communication between ground staff and the flight crew arising from weather issues and flight changes, with the aircraft involved in the incident an ATR 72-500, set to fly from Kathmandu (KTM) to Janakpur (JKR) with 69 passengers

passengers on board.

The flight was delayed on take off but was due in Janakpur at 15:15 local time and while the pilots were certain that they had arrived at the right airport, passengers must have been confused as they stepped off the plane and found themselves at the wrong airport, with the aircraft having landed in Pokhara (PKR), some 255km away (157mi) from Janakpur and even worse, Pokhara is in a completely different direction from Janakpur.

According to the Kathmandu Post, Buddha Air has admitted to serious lapses on the part of its staff, with on the day of the flight, weather conditions were rather unfavourable for flights, described as ‘breezy‘), with several services had already been delayed because of this and as a result, airlines were doing their best to capitalize on the limited weather windows available for takeoff.

One of these was Buddha Air’s U4505 to Janakpur.

Buddha Air official via Kathmandu Post, “There was miscommunication between the ground staff and the pilots”, adding“ The flying pilots also did not look at the passengers’ manifest.”

Having seen the preliminary report, the Post notes that weather issues permitted flights to Pokhara until 15:00 under visual flight rules (VFR), the airline then changed flight numbers and ground staff re-assigned the 69 passengers to flight U4607 rather than U4505, with this done ‘on paper.’

Adding to the confusion was the fact that the difference in flight schedule between Janakpur and Pokhara was 15 to 20 minutes.

The airline stated that everything was in the right order on paper, however, Buddha Air’s ground staff and flight attendant failed to brief the flight’s captain and co-pilot that the flight’s number had been changed.

An airline representative said, “Paperwork was fine,”  adding, “there were weather conditions also so the pilots were more focused on flying.”

Tri Ratna Manandhar, former director-general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, told the Post that this is only the second incident of its kind in the country’s entire history of aviation, adding,  “The Buddha Air incident happened due to miscommunication.”  “It’s not part of safety lapses but it’s a serious lapse on the part of management.”  “Such lapses cause passengers to suffer.”  “On the other hand, airlines too have to bear losses.”

The airline’s managing director told the Post that a committee has already been formed to investigate what happened and ss for the passengers, the airline says that they were flown to Janakpur directly from Pokhara later in the day.

An edited report from Simple Flying by John Alwyn-Jones

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