The crashed ATR-72 Nepalese passenger plane was previously used by the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines owned by liquor baron Vijay Mallya, as per the Cirium Fleets data.
The Yeti Airlines aircraft took off from Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport at 10:33 am on Sunday 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.
Officials said that at least 68 people have died and four people are still missing, in Nepal’s worst aviation tragedy in over three decades.
There were 15 foreigners, including five Indian nationals, onboard the ill-fated flight. According to Cirium Fleets data, which tracks aircraft fleet, equipment and its cost, the 9N-ANC aircraft was delivered to the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines in 2007.
Six years later, it was bought by Thailand’s Nok Air, before it was sold to Nepal’s Yeti Airlines in 2019, it said. Cirium Fleets data noted that the aircraft was managed by lessor Investec Bank, and owned by KF Turbo Leasing.
It was the first instance that an ATR-72 aircraft met with an accident in Nepal’s chequered aviation history. The ATR-72 is a twin-engine turboprop, short-haul regional airliner developed in France and Italy by aircraft manufacturer ATR, which is 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 Air and Yeti Airlines use ATR-72 aircraft in Nepal for short haul services.
Mishandling, malfunctioning of aircraft systems or pilot fatigue could be among the factors that caused the deadly plane crash in Nepal, according to pilots and an aircraft accident investigation expert. They said the exact reasons that led to the accident will be known only after a detailed investigation.
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