Bird strike may not have caused Sita Air crash: Nepalese authorities

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Nepalese authorities have located the voice recorder of the Sita Air Do-228-200 that killed 19 occupants when it crashed on 28 September 2012 and are dubious about attributing the crash to a bird strike.

The aircraft, bearing registration 9N-AHA, took off from Tribhuvan at 06:17 local time on 28 September. It was operating on the Tribhuvan-Lukla route. Shortly after take-off, the pilot requested to return after noticing "abnormalities", but crashed into the bank of the Manohara river before he could land.

Media reports over the weekend have attributed the crash to a bird strike that happened immediately after take-off. When asked about this theory, Nepalese police spokesman Binod Singh tells Flightglobal a dead bird was found on the ground but it was intact. This is inconsistent with the idea of the bird striking an aircraft at high speed.

"This could be a coincidence," he says.

He confirms that the aircraft's voice recorder has been found and that the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has formed a committee to investigate the disaster. He says the report's finds are likely to be out in one month.

He adds that the control tower staff might have visually observed fire in one of the aircraft's engines and notified the pilot, but stresses that only the evaluation of the voice recorder will confirm this.

The aircraft's 19 occupants were so badly burned in the crash that their remains will be sent overseas for DNA analysis. This analysis could be performed in the United Kingdom or "another country", says Singh.

The aircraft's occupants comprised three crew, seven British, five Chinese and four Nepalese.

According to Flightglobal Pro, Sita Air received its air operator's certificate in 2000 and launched services in February 2003 with a single Dornier Do-228K turboprop. The Kathmandu-based carrier was operating two Do-228-200s with a third in storage when the 9N-AHA crashed.

In May, an Agni Air Dornier 228-200 turboprop also crashed in Nepal. The aircraft was attempting to land at Jomson airport in northwest Nepal when it crashed, killing 15 of the 21 people onboard.