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Nepal flight crash: Aircraft's engine propellers did not have power during descent, says Govt panel

The Yeti Airlines tragedy is the third biggest in terms of casualties

Nepal Plane Crash (File) Rescuers scour the crash site in the wreckage of a passenger plane in Pokhara, Nepal | AP

The propellers of both engines of the Yeti Airlines aircraft that crashed in Nepal last month and killed 72 people, including five Indians, did not have power during its descent, according to a government-appointed panel probing the country's latest aviation disaster.

“During the analysis and investigation, the propellers of both engines were found to have gone feathering in the base leg in the course of landing," My Republica newspaper reported, quoting the panel.

Yeti Airlines flight 691, after taking off from Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport on January 15, crashed on the bank of the Seti River between the old airport and the new airport in the resort city of Pokhara.

Feathering applies to turboprop aircraft and is done when there is an engine stall, an aviation expert said. Usually, a propeller is feathered when the engine fails to produce the power needed to turn the propeller.

By angling the propeller parallel to the direction of the flight, feathering helps in reducing the drag on the aircraft, the expert added.

Fifty-three Nepalese passengers and 15 foreign nationals, including five Indians, and four crew members were on board the plane when it crashed, in one of Nepal's worst aviation disasters in over three decades.

There were 72 people onboard the ATR-72 aircraft when it crashed, but rescue officials have so far managed to recover only 71 bodies with the other passenger presumed dead.

“Further investigation is underway to ascertain whether the accident was a technical failure or a human error,” Deepak Prasad Bastola, a panel member was quoted as saying in the Himalayan Times report.

The panel has carried out the data analysis of the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder at the Transport Safety Investigation Bureau in Singapore.

According to Nepal's civil aviation body, 914 people have died in air crashes in the country since the first disaster was recorded in August 1955.

The Yeti Airlines tragedy in Pokhara is the 104th crash in Nepali skies and the third biggest in terms of casualties.


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