‘Stressed, weeping’ pilot blamed for Nepal plane crash

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Kathmandu: An investigation into the deadly Nepal plane crash at Kathmandu airport has blamed the captain who wept and suffered an emotional breakdown during the flight after his skills had been questioned, according to a draft of the report leaked on Monday.

The March 12 US-Bangla Airlines flight from the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka crash-landed in Kathmandu killing 51 of the 71 people on board, in the Himalayan nation’s worst aviation disaster for 26 years.

Parts of a draft report by a Nepali government-appointed panel, on Monday said captain, Abid Sultan, had been “extremely upset and hurt” by a female colleague who raised questions about his reputation as an instructor in the airline.

“He was very much under stress due to this particular issue,” the report said. “This mistrust and stress led him to continuously smoke in the cockpit and also suffer an emotional breakdown several times during the flight,” it said.

“The captain was ‘crying and sneezing’ on several occasions during the flight,” the draft said, citing recorded conversation between the cockpit and air traffic controllers. The first officer was constantly trying to console him, it added.

The captain, a former Bangladesh air force pilot, failed to follow instructions from air traffic controllers to land from a southern approach and took a more difficult northern approach to the single runway. He was unable to align the plane before landing, the report said.

The plane skidded off the runway onto the grass around it. The captain was among those killed.

An official of the investigation commission said the draft had been “illegally leaked” and that the final report would take some time to be published.

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