Home / News / India /  Snapdeal co-founder Kunal Bahl shares horrifying experience on his flight to Pokhara; here's what he said

The Yeti Airlines ATR 72-500 aircraft crashed in Pokhara in central Nepal on January 15 2023, killing at least 71 people on board. As two more bodies were recovered from the accident site on Tuesday, the total number of confirmed dead has climbed to 71, Nepal Army spokesperson Narayan Siwal told PTI. According to the Nepal Army sources, one person was still missing and the search operation is continuing to retrieve the last body.

This crash has again raised questions of the safety and challenging terrain in Nepal. After the incident, Snapdeal co-founder Kunal Bahl also shared his horrifying experience on his flight to Pokhara. His post highlights the poor infrastructure of the aircraft in which he had traveled. It also questions the overall aviation infrastructure of the nation. Bahl was soo terrified that he decided not to ever fly to Pokhara again.

Here's what happened:

In a post on Twitter, the co-founder wrote, "This is really really sad. A few years ago on my flight to Pokhara, when I told the stewardess that airflow was coming from the corner of a window while airborne, she brought a tissue paper & stuffed the crevice." "Decided to never fly to Pokhara again expecting the worst one day," he added.

Also Read: Safety culture in Nepal not adequate, need to develop infrastructure, says Commercial pilot

Why does Nepal witness frequent air crashes?

While the picturesque landscape of the country appeals to tourists, however, it poses significant challenges to aviation operators, who need to embrace and navigate the challenging environment. Nepal has the world’s most remote and tricky runways, with approaches flanked by towering mountains that challenge even accomplished pilots. The air crash on Sunday was Nepal’s worst aviation disaster since 1992. The country has been working to overcome its challenges in aviation.

Nepal, situated between India and China, is home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Mount Everest or Sagarmāthā. For flight operations, it’s an almost unrivalled, harsh environment with sudden weather changes that can make for hazardous conditions. Airports built in mountainous regions often need to have shorter runways that can only accommodate turboprop-powered regional aircraft, rather than large jet airliners that can access larger cities in Nepal. As a result, aviation carriers in Nepal have a variety of aircraft on their fleets. These craft vary in condition, presenting potential safety hazards. The ATR 72 aircraft is one typical aircraft used by Nepali carriers. It is a turboprop-powered regional aircraft with a capacity between 44 and 78 passengers. These aircraft are manufactured by a joint venture of Airbus in France and Leonardo in Italy.

Safety concerns

With air travel in Nepal becoming more accessible and affordable, airport infrastructure development has remained far behind compared to the growth of air traffic. This has resulted in increasing congestion at airports, fare competition between airlines, and decreased safety records. In fact, the country has recorded at least 350 casualties associated with aeroplanes or helicopters since 2000, which has raised questions about the effectiveness of its aviation safety regulations. The aviation regulator in charge is the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, a government agency established in 1998.

The country became a member of the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in 1960 and this membership obliged the country to abide by international conventions, ICAO’s regulations, standards, and recommended practices in aviation safety.

Though, it's aviation industry has made significant efforts to improve safety, unfortunately the safety record still doesn’t match up with the requirements of other civil aviation authorities.

The European Union has banned all Nepali airlines from operating in the bloc’s airspace in 2013 after ICAO raised a red flag, this ban still hasn’t been lifted.

Despite the tragic casualty record, Nepal has stepped up its efforts to improve aviation safety. The aviation authority has been focusing on improving safety in Nepali aviation such as building improvements at airports, upgrading safety equipment, and fostering a positive safety culture by encouraging hazard reporting.

Thought its considerable improvement in safety measures and compliance with international standards was recognised by ICAO in 2018, however, it must continue work on its aviation reform to make its skies safe for everyone.

The country has also welcomed private investment into its aviation sector since 1992. Yeti Airlines is one of 20 domestic carriers. The airline, headquartered in Kathmandu, flies to ten domestic destinations using ATR 72-500 aircraft. In addition, 29 international airlines operate into Nepal’s capital too.

Meanwhile, the flight had Fifty-three Nepalese passengers and 15 foreign nationals, including five Indians, and four crew members were on board the plane when it crashed. The five Indians, all reportedly from Uttar Pradesh, have been identified as Abhisekh Kushwaha, 25, Bishal Sharma, 22, Anil Kumar Rajbhar, 27, Sonu Jaiswal, 35, and Sanjaya Jaiswal. The family members of four men from Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh who were killed in a plane crash in Nepal have reached Kathmandu to receive the bodies. Both the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder were recovered on Monday as search and rescue teams rappelled down a 300-metre gorge to continue their efforts.

The Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) records radio transmissions and other sounds in the cockpit, such as conversations between the pilots, and engine noises. The flight data recorder (FDR) records more than 80 different types of information such as speed, altitude and direction, as well as pilot actions and performance of important systems.

(With inputs from agencies)


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