MiIAMI – Confusion on the ground in Nepal recently led a Buddha Air (U4) to fly to the wrong airport.
According to the NY Daily News, a ground staff member changed the flight number but didn’t send the memo. The Pilots didn’t know to check the passenger manifest against the flight number.
And that’s how an ATR 72-500 with 69 passengers aboard departed Nepal’s capital city of Kathmandu and ended up in Pokhara, rather than their intended destination of Janakpur, The Kathmandu Post reported.
Pokhara and Janakpur are about 160 miles apart.
The airlines later chartered a flight and delivered the passengers to the correct airport.
Always Tell the Pilot Where to Fly
The error occurred because of “lapses in communication and failure to follow detailed standard operating procedures,” U4 executive officer Astha Basnet told CNN.
The Daily News reported that airline carriers were hurriedly making up for lost time on a breezy afternoon that was delaying some flights. “The weather was already causing flight delays, and to make up for the flying time, Buddha Air officials decided to fly to Pokhara first,” an airline official told the newspaper.
They slapped another flight number onto the Janakpur plane, the official said, and then, on paper only, “the ground staff transferred 69 passengers of flight U4505 to flight U4607, which actually was cleared for Pokhara by the air traffic controllers.”
All was in order, except for the fact that the captain and co-pilot weren’t told that the flight number had been changed, and, focused on flying in the borderline-inclement weather, did not check the manifests.
At no point was safety compromised, Buddha Air officials told CNN, and the plane flew to the passengers’ original destination after getting special permission since there are no Pokhara-Janakpur direct flights.
Buddha Air Pvt. Ltd operates domestic flights within Nepal as well as international flights to India. It serves mainly large towns and cities in Nepal. Currently, it operates 33 flight routes to about 15 destinations in Nepal and an international flight to Varanasi of India.
Its main base is Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, and It was the largest domestic carrier in terms of passengers carried in 2018.
The Buddha Air fleet currently comprises:
The ATR 72
The ATR 72 is a twin-engine turboprop. short-haul regional airliner developed and produced in France and Italy by aircraft manufacturer ATR (Aerei da Trasporto Regionale or Avions de transport régional), a joint venture formed by French aerospace company Aérospatiale (now Airbus) and Italian aviation conglomerate Aeritalia (now Leonardo S.p.A.).
The number “72” in its name is derived from the aircraft’s standard seating configuration in a passenger-carrying configuration, which could seat 72–78 passengers in a single-class arrangement.
Featured image: Buddha Air ATRE 42 9N-AIM in Pokhara. Photo: Wiki Commons. Further article source: Wikimedia.