Home / News / Nepal saw 17 plane crashes since 2000: Why Himalayan nation sees frequent tragedies?

At least 68 people died after a plane crashed on Sunday into a river gorge while landing at the Pokhara airport in Nepal. The plane was carrying 72 people, including four crew members and five Indians among the foreign nationals. The cause of the Nepalese plane crash has not been ascertained yet.

Nepal, where 68 people died on Sunday, is not new to such tragedies. Nepal's air transport sector has been plagued by accidents due to poor maintenance, insufficient training and lax standards. Nepal also has the world’s most remote and tricky runways, with approaches flanked by towering mountains that challenge even accomplished pilots.

Since 2000, 17 plane crashes have happened that killed 273 people; of which, 11 alone happened since 2010. The last such tragedy Nepal saw was in May 2022 when 22 people onboard a Tara Air plane were killed after it crashed in Mustang district. Let’s understand why Nepal sees such tragedies frequently:

Nepal remains one of the trickiest regions to fly an aircraft. Its topography is rocky and treacherous in nature. Weather also remains a big reason why even experienced pilots find it difficult to fly an aircraft in Nepal. In fact, the European Union has banned all Nepali carriers from its airspace over safety concerns.

While the air industry in Nepal has boomed in the past few years, carrying goods and people between hard-to-reach areas as well as foreign trekkers and climbers. Over time, Nepal has been plagued by poor safety due to insufficient training and maintenance.

As the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal stated in a 2019 report: “…diversity of weather patterns together with hostile topography are the main challenges surrounding aircraft operations in Nepal due to which the number of accidents related to small aircraft….seems comparatively higher."

One of the airports in Nepal, Tenzing-Hillary airport, in Lukla at Everest base camp is considered one of the most dangerous airports in the world. 

The CAA of Nepal said, “The data of past five years (in 2019) show that Jumla, Simikot and Lukla as the top 3 risky altiports/STOLports of Nepal. However, the history of civil aviation in Nepal has witnessed many accidents in the remote airports in Nepal. Taking into consideration the number of accident and fatality during the period of 1960 to April 2019, top five altiports can be named as Lukla, Jomsom, Simikot, Jumla and Dolpa."

“During the period of 2009-2018 highest number of accidents with aeroplane was observed in 2016 with 4 accidents. The trend of fatality related to aeroplane accident has registered a steep drop continuously," it said.

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