Assessment underlines Nepalese safety concerns

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European safety authorities have highlighted concerns about Nepalese carriers Sita Air and Nepal Airlines, following an assessment of the country’s air transport situation.

All of Nepal’s airlines were blacklisted by the European Commission under a blanket ban imposed last year.

Safety specialists conducted an assessment visit to Nepal over 3-8 February to examine whether any of the restrictions could be eased.

Commission documentation accompanying the latest blacklist revision states that six airlines were assessed, with Yeti Airlines, Buddha Air, Tara Air and Shree Airlines able to show a “good understanding of safety-management issues”.

These carriers, it adds, could provide evidence indicating compliance with national safety regulations.

Nepal Airlines and Sita Air were also examined.

Sita Air was “unable to demonstrate its ability to conduct a safe operation”, the documentation states, nor complete continuing airworthiness of the aircraft being used.

The assessment adds that Sita Air had “failed to fully implement” all safety recommendations arising from a fatal Dornier 228 accident at Kathmandu in September 2012, because it found no evidence that it was using a simulator for its training.

Nepal Airlines has a “basic framework” for safety management in place, says the documentation, but needs to establish “more effective methods” for safety promotion, reporting and analysis.

It points out that the carrier is undergoing an “ambitious” expansion plan with new aircraft types, and that such plans need to be “properly managed to contain the safety risks”.

The Commission’s assessment also says the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has “serious deficiencies” in the areas of training and licensing of pilots, certification of carriers and operations oversight.

Nepal Airlines suffered the fatal loss of a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 on 16 February, about a week after the safety visit concluded. Although the civil aviation authority informed the Commission in March of subsequent safety actions, the Commission was unable to assess whether these were suitable. The blanket blacklisting on Nepal remains in place.