Pilot Of Nepal Crash Was Crying In Cockpit, Had "Emotional Breakdown" During Flight
[The Investigation Commission has made a statement that the report has been “illegally leaked” and the final report would take some time to be published. The official confirmation of this news is still awaited. The information will be updated accordingly once the official confirmation is received]
The devastating plane crash in Nepal on March 12, 2018, that claimed the lives of 51 out of 71 passengers onboard, was apparently due to the stressed mental condition of one of the pilots. This was revealed by an investigation panel set up by Nepal Government as reported by India Today.
After verifying the recovered voice recordings, the panel has concluded that the pilot, Abid Sultan, constantly smoked and wept several times during the flight. Possibly, he had lied to the Air Traffic Control about following the secure landing procedure. He reportedly failed to align the aircraft in the direction of the runway before landing.
Both the pilots of the flight along with the crew members lost their lives in the crash.
Findings of the report
Previously, US-Bangla Airlines had issued a statement after the crash refuting all chances of the pilot’s fault behind the crash. “He has logged over 5,000 flight hours in the Bangladeshi aviation industry; over a hundred landings in Kathmandu. He was quite familiar with the airfield and the aircraft. We do not think the captain had any fault,” a spokesperson for the Airlines has told The Hindu the day after the crash, defending Abid Sultan.
However, the recently surfaced report by the Nepal Government investigation committee now points otherwise. According to India Today report, Sultan confirmed to the ATC about locking the landing gears of the plane six minutes before making the descent. However, when the co-pilot carried out a final check, she discovered the gear was not down, realising that Sultan had lied.
Several statements of the draft report clearly indicate that the pilot was emotionally unstable during the course of the flight, as stated by Reuters.
The report states that Abid Sultan was “extremely upset and hurt” over the comments of a female crew member who questioned his reputation as an instructor for the US-Bangla Airlines. “This mistrust and stress led him to continuously smoke in the cockpit and also suffer an emotional breakdown several times during the flight,” as excerpted from the report.
He was also heard to have a verbal dispute with her. Incidentally, he had submitted his resignation to the airlines via email just before his flight to Nepal, as one of his colleagues revealed to Bangladesh daily Prothom Alo
The Cockpit Voice Recorder which has been retrieved served as recorded evidence of the entire conversation in the cockpit during the hour-long flight. The records clearly point out the mental turbulence Sultan was undergoing.
“He seemed to be fatigued and tired due to lack of sleep. He was crying on several occasions.”, the Kathmandu Post quoted as per the submitted report. Sultan reportedly lit the last cigarette just three minutes before the final descent. In fact, at one point during the flight, Sultan said, “I don’t f—ing care about the safe flight, you f— your duty.”
The report also mentioned that the first officer was continuously trying to console and calm him down.
Pilot had a history of psychological issues
According to his earlier medical reports, Sultan had a history of depression. As stated by Kathmandu Post, Abid Sultan was a former pilot of the Bangladesh Air Force before he was employed by the US-Bangla Airlines in 2015 as a commercial pilot. After a psychiatric assessment in 1993, he was suspended from duty till 2002, when he had probably recovered. These reports were ignored by the airlines during his recruitment.
However, Sultan did not display signs of any frequent mental issue from 2002 to 2018, clarified the report.