Probe Into Deadly Crash Cites Pilot's 'Emotional Breakdown'

51 people died in the US-Bangla Airlines flight BS211 crash
By Marcel Wiel,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2019 11:55 AM CST
Probe Into Deadly Crash Cites Pilot's 'Emotional Breakdown'
Wreckage of US-Bangla Airlines flight BS211 that crashed at Kathmandu airport March 12, 2018   (AP Photo/Niranjan Shreshta, File)

In August, a leaked draft of the investigation into a deadly plane crash in Nepal suggested an insult directed at the pilot may have contributed to the crash. Now, the official release of the report confirms that. Per Reuters, it states that Captain Abid Sultan, 52, "seemed to have an emotional breakdown" prior to the crash of US-Bangla Airlines flight BS211 last March at Kathmandu airport, in which 51 of the 71 people aboard died. The report described him as "very much emotionally disturbed and stressed" because a female coworker had "questioned his reputation" as a competent flight instructor; she wasn't on the flight, per the BBC. The report backed this up by saying that when communicating with ground control prior to takeoff, Sultan exhibited a vocal pitch and language indicative of high stress levels.

Statements from survivors and voice recorder data show the captain also smoked in the cockpit and was "engaged in unnecessary, unprofessional and lengthy conversation even in the critical phase." The crew ultimately lost "situational awareness" and was not on a proper path to see the runway. When they finally did, they weren't in a proper position to land but did so anyway. Though depression led to Sultan being discharged from the Bangladeshi Air Force in 1993, he had been assessed as fit to take up piloting for commercial airlines, and recent medical checkups he had undergone had not noted any symptoms. Landings at the airport of the Himalayan capital are recognized as particularly challenging. In 1992, a Pakistan International Airlines flight crashed into surrounding hills, killing all 167 on board. (A "difficult decision" after soccer star's plane vanished.)

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