The aircraft involved in the accident, S2-AGU, seen in 2014
|Date||12 March 2018|
|Summary||Runway alignment Error, possible pilot error|
|Site||Tribhuvan International Airport, Nepal |
|Aircraft type||Bombardier Dash 8-Q400|
|IATA flight No.||BS211|
|ICAO flight No.||UBG211|
|Call sign||BANGLA STAR 211|
|Flight origin||Shahjalal International Airport, Dhaka|
|Destination||Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu|
US-Bangla Airlines Flight 211 was a scheduled international passenger flight by US-Bangla Airlines from Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka, Bangladesh to Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal. On 12 March 2018, the aircraft serving the flight, a 78-seater Bombardier Dash 8 Q400, crashed on landing, and burst into flames. There were 67 passengers and 4 crew members on board; 52 people died, while 19 survived.
The aircraft was a Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 registered S2-AGU. It was first delivered to Scandinavian Airlines in 2001, and was then sold to Augsburg Airways in 2008 before being bought by US-Bangla Airlines in 2014. It had already been involved in an incident in 2015, when it skidded off the runway in Saidpur, an incident with no injuries. The aircraft sustained minor damage and returned to service eight hours later.
The flight departed from Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, at 12:52 local time (UTC 6:52), carrying 67 passengers and 4 crew members, 71 people in total, to Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. The departure and the cruise stages of the flight were uneventful.
There was confusion and conflicting communications between the pilot and the airport tower control. The tower initially gave clearance to land on runway 02, but, the tower had to warn the aircrew that they were approaching runway 20. Further conversation between the pilots and the control tower continued to confuse the runways.
At 14:18 local time (08:30 UTC), the aircraft passed the threshold of runway 02 and touched down, and then veered off the runway and crashed through the airport's perimeter fence and onto a soccer field, breaking into several sections and bursting into flames. According to eyewitnesses, the plane was not aligned properly with the runway. One of the survivors noted that "the plane had begun to behave strangely". Ground workers stated that the aircraft swayed repeatedly. A survivor recalled that while the plane was landing it shook violently and crashed, followed by loud bangs.
Firefighters and emergency services were immediately deployed. It took 15 minutes for firefighters to douse the flames. Thirty-one people were transported to several hospitals in Kathmandu, many of them critically injured. Rescue workers immediately found eight bodies on the crash site. Further search and rescue operation found 32 more bodies. 52 people were killed in the crash; of these, 40 people died on the scene, while 12 others were declared dead in hospital. This number was initially only nine, until two more succumbed to injuries the day after, while a third died two weeks later. The airport was closed for three hours due to the crash.
The aircraft was carrying 65 adult passengers, two child passengers, and four crew members, for a total of 71 on board. The captain was Abid Sultan, a former Bangladesh Air Force pilot. The first officer was Prithula Rashid, the first female pilot of the airline.
Sultan had 22 years of flying experience, was one of the experienced pilots of the airline, and had accumulated 1700 hours in the aircraft type. According to the airline, he had flown to Kathmandu more than 100 times. He survived the accident but died of injuries a few hours later.
Rashid, 25, joined the airline in July 2016. She survived the accident but died of her injuries.
A recording of the conversation between the pilot and air traffic control, minutes before the accident, suggested some misunderstanding over the approach direction for which the aircraft had been cleared to land.
Bangladesh and the aircraft manufacturer are participating in the investigation led by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal which reported that the flight recorders had been recovered. Various eyewitness reports have also surfaced. The Aircraft Accident Investigation Commission (AAIC) released their preliminary report on 9 April. Initial findings were that the aircraft had touched down 1,700 metres (5,600 ft) from the start of the runway.
Media reports on leaks from investigation report suggests pilot error led to the crash “When we analysed the conversation on the Cockpit Voice Recorder, it was clear to us that the captain was harbouring severe mental stress. He also seemed to be fatigued and tired due to lack of sleep”, “He was crying on several occasions.” The report also shows that Sultan made multiple abusive statements toward a female colleague (another co-pilot in the company) who had questioned his reputation as an instructor, and their relationship was a major topic of discussion throughout the flight. Records show that Rashid, the co-pilot, was a passive listener to Sultan’s story throughout the flight.