Kathmandu: The Nepalese passenger plane, which crashed into a river gorge on Sunday with 72 people onboard, was an ATR-72 aircraft, in the first instance that such a model met with an accident in Nepal’s chequered aviation history.
The ill-fated Yeti Airlines’ 9N-ANC ATR-72 aircraft took off from Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport at 10:33 am for the 25-minute journey and crashed on the bank of the Seti River between the old airport and the new airport in Pokhara, minutes before landing, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.
A total of 68 passengers, including five Indians, and four crew members were on board the aircraft.
The ATR-72 is a twin-engine turboprop, short-haul regional airliner developed in France and Italy by aircraft manufacturer ATR, a joint venture between French aerospace company Aerospatiale and Italian aviation conglomerate Aeritalia.
The number “72” in its name is derived from the aircraft’s typical standard seating capacity of 72 passengers.
Currently, only Buddha Airlines and Yeti Airlines employ ATR-72 aircraft in Nepal.
Jagannath Niraula, spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal said this was the first accident of an ATR-72 aircraft in Nepal, according to MyRepublica newspaper.
Sunday’s incident was Nepal’s deadliest plane crash in more than 30 years, according to data from the Aviation Safety Network.
Flight tracking website FlightRadar24 claimed that the Yeti Airlines aircraft was 15 years old and equipped with an ‘old transponder with unreliable data’.
There is no information about any survivor so far, said Sudarshan Bartaula, spokesperson at Yeti Airlines.
Nepal has had a fraught record of aviation accidents, partly due to its sudden weather changes and airstrips located in hard-to-access rocky terrains.