BY SHOHEL MAMUN
The US-Bangla Airlines plane crash at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, which claimed at least 50 lives, was inevitable, according to a professional pilot.
The claim may sound outrageous, but the pilot, whose identity will not be revealed considering his job safety, told his colleague, another professional pilot, that this tragic accident was “just waiting to happen.”
Both the pilots work in the private sector.
The letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Dhaka Tribune, is printed verbatim below:
I’m so depressed and disturbed. This accident was just waiting to happen.
The safety culture or, truly speaking, the lack of it in private sector is simply outrageous!
I know the pilots are forced to operate by their management in situations where it’s prudent not to fly. Routinely, schedule regularity and commercial considerations take precedence over flight safety.
I’ve heard many harrowing stories from our First Officers who were in private sector before. Even if there are some exaggerations, if I consider only 25% of what they say is true, it is alarming!
You are one of the senior most pilots and a pioneer. Please stand up. Once you told me that you haven’t learnt to say no. Please remember, brother, a Captain must know when to put his foot down and say “no” to the face of the management. We routinely observe private carriers shooting approaches well below minimum visibility, departing for a destination with very marginal weather or visibility, compromising on technical issues, flying without weather radar, forbidding pilots to give entry in the engineering log, especially at outstations as grounding would cost money! Money is more important than safety!!! OMG!
It’s human lives that are at stake! This is what we pilots deal with every single day. It’s a sacred duty, not the glamorous job that the media portrays!
I’ve often seen Biman or other foreign carriers holding for visibility to improve in winter, when US-Bangla or Regent not only commence approach, but landing!! I’ve heard private airlines pilots asking for “pilot’s discretion” start up when visibility in Saidpur or Jessore or Cox’s Bazar is 1,000 or 1,200 metres without improving trend!!! Non-precision approach airports!!!
Brother, please, all pilots should realize the implications of our actions. If all are together, the management will not be able to exert pressure to depart with a bad weather approaching or with a technical issue or with less than minimum rest between flight duty periods. True, even with all precautions and safety, accidents can happen anytime, to anyone – even the most experienced crew – but that shouldn’t stop us from being conservative when it comes to safety.
I heard Captain Abid Sultan had flown four sectors before going to an airport to Kathmandu. How outrageous! That, too, with a First Officer with barely two months’ experience! Biman doesn’t allow such inexperienced FO to fly to Cox’s Bazar, even!
At the end of it all, the children of Captain Abid will never see their father again! Breaks my heart. It could be me, it could be you. Oh my!
Sorry for the long message. Feeling extremely sad. Had to share.
Take care, brother. Fly safe. May Allah be with you and us all. All the crew of all airlines.”
(Dhaka Tribune, Bangladesh)