The U.S.-Bangla Airlines has claimed that its pilot Capt. Abid Sultan, who died in hospital on Tuesday, wasn’t at fault. “He has logged over 5,000 flight hours in the Bangladeshi aviation industry; over a hundred landings in Kathmandu. He was quite familiar with the airfield and the aircraft. We do not think the captain had any fault,” said Kamrul Islam, spokesperson. The airline also said that the final conversation indicated “a possible confusion” about the runway.
“We have said that it’s possible to be misguided from the ATC in such cases. It will take a bit time to recover the data from the black box,” said Kamrul Islam.
However, Tribhuvan airport authorities have claimed that the pilot came in from the wrong direction to the runway. Nepali authorities have recovered the black box of the 16-year-old aircraft and opened on inquiry.
The Airlines CEO Imran Asif earlier on Monday also claimed ‘wrong signals’ from the air traffic control tower might have led to the crash of its plane.
Fresh details have emerged over the runway confusion leading to the deadliest aviation disaster in Bangladesh’s history. Transmissions by the Kathmandu tower controller show that, despite being cleared to land on runway 02, the U.S.-Bangla flight began deviating from its course, according to JACDEC, a German air safety website.
The captain and the tower controller at Tribhuvan International Airport discussed which runway the aircraft was aiming for. At one point, the controller told the woman copilot she was heading toward runway 20, although the aircraft had been cleared for runway 02.
Later, the captain took over the conversation and confirmed the plan to land at runway 02. At one stage, ground control said runway 20 had also been cleared for landing, however. “Amid much confusion, mostly on the part of the flight crew, the ultimate landing clearance on runway 02 was received,” JACDEC said in its analysis. The crash occurred less than a minute after that.
A list released by the Bangladeshi Embassy in Kathmandu showed that of the 32 Bangladeshi passengers, 22 died in the crash.
All four cabin crew members including pilot Abid Sultan have died. Co-pilot Prithula Rashid is being mourned by her friends and family. Her Facebook profile was flooded with comments from people, pouring in their condolences and love.
Sylhet’s Jalalabad Ragib-Rabeya Medical College began a three-day mourn on Tuesday, following the death of 13 of its students — all Nepalese — in the March 12 plane crash. The private medical college has 250 Nepalese medical students. Thirteen of them, 11 females, boarded the flight for a vacation back home after MBBS finals. They all died.