National Flag Carrier NAC under scrutiny for alarming negligence in air safety

Qatar Airways proposes management takeover of Nepal Airlines Corporation amid financial crisis

KATHMANDU: Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) is facing severe scrutiny for its alarming lapses in air safety, as revealed by a comprehensive audit conducted over five days by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN).

Following the European Union’s publication of a report asserting that Nepal Airlines Corporation could not be removed from the safety list, CAAN initiated an audit to assess the corporation’s compliance with safety standards.

The audit unearthed additional weaknesses within the corporation, prompting concerns about the potential need for grounding. The regulatory body is poised to inform the Prime Minister and Ministers about the critical air security situation at NAC.

Given that NAC is a government entity, CAAN leadership is deliberating grounding actions, contingent on the approval of the Prime Minister and the Minister. Despite findings that would prompt immediate action in a private airline, the authority is opting for further discussions due to the national flag carrier status of NAC.

The audit pinpointed negligence in various facets of the corporation, including flight operations, safety management systems, and adherence to aircraft ordinances. NAC, currently operating four large and three small aircraft, has six Chinese planes grounded for an extended period.

Authorities fear that the national flag carrier’s extensive negligence, coupled with flights to ten international destinations, poses a substantial risk of a major accident. The audit’s findings highlight several critical issues:

Flight Operations: Authority-approved procedures are inconsistently followed, with inadequate manual updates and insufficient training for concerned staff, including the absence of a ‘cabin crew instructor.’

Safety Management System: Safety management functions exhibit laxity, lacking effective standards for operating in various hazards. Flight and operational risks are not adequately addressed.

Airworthiness: Hangar management falls short of aviation sector standards, with a perceived emphasis on procurement processes over ensuring aircraft airworthiness.

Cargo Safety: NAC neglects safety standards when transporting dangerous materials through cargo flights. Employees lack proper training in handling such materials.

Landing Risks: Safety management systems to mitigate landing risks across all flights are notably absent, and the ship repair hangar operates below international standards.

The EU’s report, linking Nepal Airlines and Shree Airlines to safety non-compliance, reinforces the authority’s decision to maintain the country on the safety list. In response to the report, NAC’s executive chairman, Yubraj Adhikari, has been asked for an explanation, and a detailed audit has been initiated.

Fiscal Nepal |
Tuesday December 19, 2023, 12:46:48 PM |

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