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Mid-air scare: Nepal asks Indian authorities to take action against Air India pilots


Kathmandu, March 27
Nepal's aviation authority has banned pilots of an Air India flight from flying in Nepali airspace after they brought down their airplane to 15,000 feet on Friday without the permission of the Air Traffic Controller (ATC), nearly causing a mid-air collision with a Nepal Airlines flight over Kathmandu.

On Friday, before landing at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, the Air India plane from New Delhi, flying at an unauthorised height of 19,000 feet, suddenly fell to 15,000 feet.

This made it almost collide with a Nepal Airlines plane coming to Kathmandu from Kuala Lumpur and the accident was averted after the Nepal Airlines pilots took down their plane to 7,000 feet.

The Nepal Airlines plane was holding at a height of 15,000 feet when the plane of Air India suddenly came down to the same level. As the two came in a position of collision, an alert was automatically sounded in both cockpits and a possible fatal accident was averted, said officials at Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN).

Following the incident, the CAAN has suspended Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) of Tribhuvan International Airport involved in the traffic conflict incident from active control positions until further notice. It has also written to its Indian counterpart to take action against the Air India pilots who were involved in the incident that happened on Friday.

Jagannath Niraula, spokesperson of the Authority, said that a letter has been sent to Air India with a message to India's civil aviation authority to investigate and take action on the matter.

"We have written to investigate the incident between Air India and Nepal Airlines and take necessary action and inform the authority," he said.

On the same day also, the airport authorities in Kathmandu had sought explanations from the Air India pilots where they had admitted their mistake and apologised.

The CAAN has also set up an inquiry committee in connection with the incident, said Niruala.