CAAN grounds Prabhu Helicopter and senior captain for unauthorized Everest flight

KATHMANDU: In a critical move, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) has grounded all flights operated by Prabhu Helicopter and Sobit Gauchan, a senior captain of the company, for conducting an unauthorized flight from Kathmandu to Camp 2 in the Mount Everest region. This decision follows an illegal flight carried out by renowned mountaineer Nirmal Purja Magar, also known as Nims Dai, who landed a helicopter at a location prohibited for such activities.

According to Gyanendra Bhul, the information officer of CAAN, Purja illegally commandeered the helicopter and flew it to Camp 2, landing at 11:30 AM on Sunday morning.

Eyewitnesses in the Everest region reported that Purja took the helicopter by force, blatantly violating CAAN regulations that restrict helicopter flights above the Everest base camp to emergency situations only.

Contrary to these rules, Purja landed Prabhu Helicopter’s A350 B3, with the callsign 9N-ANL, directly from Lukla to Camp 2. Bhul emphasized that this flight was in clear violation of aviation regulations and a recent Supreme Court order.

“The helicopter did not perform any rescue mission but instead flew to a restricted area,” Bhul stated. “The captain has now been grounded for violating the rule.”

The Supreme Court had recently issued a ban on helicopter flights on Mount Everest, except for emergencies, in response to a public interest litigation filed by advocate Deepak Bikram Mishra. Justices Sapana Pradhan Malla and Sushma Lata Mathema issued the restraining order, underscoring the importance of preserving the sanctity and safety of the Everest region.

Despite these clear legal mandates, the Prabhu helicopter was found carrying passengers beyond the base camp. This blatant disregard for aviation rules has led CAAN to request an explanation from Prabhu Helicopter regarding this serious violation.

This incident raises significant concerns about adherence to aviation laws and the enforcement of regulations designed to protect both the natural environment and the safety of individuals in high-risk areas like Mount Everest.

The grounding of Prabhu Helicopter flights and the suspension of Captain Gauchan serve as a stern reminder of the consequences of violating aviation protocols.

The aviation community and environmental advocates have expressed their dismay at this incident. They emphasize that such actions not only endanger lives but also undermine efforts to maintain the pristine nature of the Everest region.

The unauthorized flight by Purja highlights the need for stringent enforcement of aviation laws and the necessity of holding accountable those who flout these regulations.

As CAAN investigates further, the aviation authority is expected to impose additional sanctions to prevent future violations. The grounding of Prabhu Helicopter and its senior captain marks a pivotal moment in Nepal’s aviation history, underscoring the critical importance of compliance with established laws and regulations.

This incident serves as a cautionary tale for other aviation operators about the severe repercussions of unauthorized flights in restricted areas.

Fiscal Nepal |
Wednesday May 22, 2024, 10:59:16 AM |

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