After much ICAO effort, Nepal isn’t really performing at global aviation safety standards- do USOAP and the support systems really work?

Nepal has had much ICAO attention and it is still BAD
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ICAO today says CAA of Nepal meets standards

After years of remedial support 

Its aviation safety record is  still LOW!!!

A few days ago, the press headlined an aircraft crash in Nepal (see below) and that story was followed by well-researched articles about the Government of Nepals (Nepali: नेपाल सरकार)substandard aviation safety record  . A quick reference to the global, multinational aviation safety authority, ICAO, showed that the country’s CAA met the relevant standards. How? Why?

CAAN headquarters in KathmanduAs recently as 2017,  ICAO’s Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) found the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN or in AAN above logo) to be above average of the civil aviation authorities and not worthy of being red-flagged.[1] The ICAO “auditors” have visited the Kathmandu offices frequently over the past decade and have found problems more than once.

Here is the current result of the most recent review, a graph with numbers that are comparable to other countries.

ICAO USOAP rating of Nepal

As acknowledged before, the USOAP is a difficult function for a UN independent agency finding a sovereign and ICAO Member as being deficient. Further, Nepal’s aeronautical environment may be the most challenging of any in the world (airports and weather maps; topographic map below).

Map of Nepal airports and WX

As evidenced in the Appendix below, the Oversight Audit Programme and ICAO’s remedial actions do not give rise to much confidence in these metrics and the value of the resources devoted to bringing Nepal to international safety standards. Here is CAAN’s own table showing its deficiencies:

These are deficiencies which may well be related to the Tara Crash.

detailed USOAP results

This anomaly between ICAO’s assessment of CAAN’s competence and  miserable safety performance in Nepal call into question the efficacy of the ICAO USOAP. This concern is highlighted

  • by the repeated audits (see Appendix)
  • by the repeated remedial efforts
  • by the contrasting EU red flag[2]


Understanding the difficulty of auditing a sovereign government organization, of convincing the CAA to adopt standards thrust on them and of the incredibly challenging aeronautical conditions of Nepal, one still must ask how another crash occurred after all these efforts. The question must be debated at the highest levels of ICAO NOW!!!

ICAO should review


Nepal Plane Crash: Latest Updates


PUBLISHED circa May 29, 2022

Nepal DHC-6 crash and CAAN logo

Search and rescue teams are at the crash site, but chances of finding any survivors look slim.

Search and rescue teams are at the crash site in Nepal, where a Tara Air[3] flight went down with 22 people onboard. Rescue officers are going through the wreckage, and according to the latest reports, the search team has found several victims who, unfortunately, did not survive the crash.

Site located, search and rescue ongoing

The Nepal Army has located the site of the plane crash, finding the wreckage of the twin-engine aircraft in Sanosware, Thasang-2 of Mustang district in Nepal. The de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter was performing a flight for Tara Air when it went missing on the morning of May 29th.

Difficult terrain and weather conditions in the area pose an added layer of challenge in the rescue mission, with helicopters deployed to locate the crashed aircraft last night being recalled due to heavy snowfall.

What happened?

While it’s too early to determine the cause of the accident, official statements trickling in, and eyewitness accounts have provided some information about the flight’s final moments.

The primary cause of the accident is believed to be poor weather, with Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority stating that the aircraft had been flying from the city of Pokhara to the popular tourist town Jomsom in central Nepal when it lost contact with air traffic control about 12 minutes into the journey. With the two destinations just 45 miles apart, the flight itself wasn’t long, lasting about 20 to 22 minutes.

Reportedly, two other flights of another carrier had taken off before Tara Air and landed safely. According to the Indian Express, one of the passengers of yesterday’s crash, Ashok Tripathy, had called his travel agent in Kathmandu just before takeoff…

Accident-prone area

Nepal Jomsom Airport IATA JMO, ICAO VNJS

Nepal is home to some of the highest mountains in the world, making it a pretty challenging place for airplanes to land and takeoff. In fact, the world’s deepest gorge that goes down three miles vertically between Dhaulagiri and Annapurna mountains runs through the district of Mustang, where the crash happened.

This is the second such incident in six years involving Tara Air. In 2016, 23 passengers died when a Tara Air Twin Otter aircraftNepal Topo was performing the same flight as yesterday’s from Pokhara to Jomson(history of crashes[4]) and crashed into the mountains.





Tragic History of Plane Crashes and Dangerous Skies In Nepal

7 recent Nepal crashes

Here are some major plane crashes in Nepal:

2018 US-Bangla Flight 211 crash

A 76-seat Bombardier Q400 of the US-Bangla Airlines traveling from Dhaka to Kathmandu on March 12, 2018. The aircraft crashed while landing at Tribhuwan International Airport, killing 51 out of 71 people. It was later discovered the plane crashed “due to pilot error and loss of situational awareness.”

2016 Tara Air Flight crash

Flight 193 of Tara air, flying Pokhara to Jomsom, went missing merely after eight minutes of takeoff on February 24, 2016. The wreckage was discovered near Dana village and there were no survivors. The plane carried 23 people.

2012 Sita Air Flight crash

19 people were killed after a domestic flight of Sita air crashed while making an emergency landing at TIA. The plane was flying to Tenzing-Hillary Airport from Kathmandu.

2012 Agni Year crash

The Dornier 288 aircraft of Agni Air which was flying from Pokhara to Jomsom crashed near Jomsom Airport. 15 people lost their life including both the pilots. This is also regarded as one of the deadliest crashes in history.

2011 Buddha Air crash

A Beechcraft 1900D aircraft of Buddha Air crashed near Lalitpur on September 25, 2011, killing all 22 people on board.

2010 Tara Air crash

A DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft of Tara Air flying from Lamidana to Kathmandu crashed on December 15, 2010. All 22 people on board, including three crew members, were killed.

2010 Agni Air Flight Crash

Agni Air Flight 101 went missing which was flying from Kathmandu to Lukla. It was crashed 22 minutes later, killing 12 people on board.

2008 UN Helicopter crash

All 10 people on board died after a UN helicopter crashed at Ramechhap. It was returning from a mission in a Maoist army camp.

APPENDIX- ICAO’s and CAAN’s record of TRYING to meet international standards

State Safety Programme, Nepal 2011

2011 CAAN State Safety Programme

ICAO to help Nepal’s aviation regulator with research, development

Technical Assistance Agreement between ICAO and the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal 2015

2015 ICAO-CAAN technical agreement

ICAO drops Nepal from safety concern list

July 2017


ICAO and Nepal drive multilateral assistance effort to resolve aviation safety concerns

25 August 2017


Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal State Safety Programme (SSP) Implementation Plan 2018

CAAN State Safety Implementation Plan 2018

Safety Management System Implementation Guidance Material March 2019


State Safety Programme, Nepal Second Edition January 2020

Asian Development Bank–Technical Assistance Report Project) June 2020 Nepal: Supporting the Civil Aviation Sector Improvement Program

ADB tech assist plan

State Safety Programme, Nepal 2018-2022 March 2021 Amendment

Nepal CAAN 2020 amendment

SPP element analysis


Minister Ale urges EU envoy to help remove ban on Nepal from EU’s safety list

Published On:  May 27, 2022 07:45 AM NPT By: Republica  |  @RepublicaNepa

Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Prem Bahadur Ale

KATHMANDU, May 27: Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Prem Bahadur Ale, has requested the European Ambassador to Nepal, Nona Deprez, to lift the ban placed on Nepal from EU’s safety list.

A discussion was held between Minister Ale and Ambassador Deprez on the issue at the ministry on Wednesday, according to the Minister’s Personal Secretary Manoj Adhikari.

Minister Ale reminded the EU Ambassador that Nepal’s aviation sector was safe now. He further said that Nepal’s score was 70.1 percent on implementation of safety on eight categories set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which Minister Ale argued was above the average.

“Nepali aviation is safe as per ICAO’s indicators. Now, the EU is requested to lift the ban on Nepal’s aviation,” he said.

The EU had blacklisted Nepal’s aviation sector for poor air safety eight years ago. However, the ICAO has already lifted the ban on Nepal with its improved safety indicators. The EU had demanded further qualification and training of Nepali pilots to meet international standards.

On the occasion, Director General at Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, Engineer Pradip Kumar Adhikari, informed the Ambassador that Nepal had managed training and qualification of pilots in line with international criteria.

Currently, Nepal Airlines, Buddha Air and Himalaya Airlines are ready for conducting international flight and waiting for t he EU’s nod.

crash site


[1] The FAA IASA has not assessed Nepal. The EU has banned flights from Nepalese carriers into the Community

[2] See Appendix and the May 27  Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Prem Bahadur Ale request that  the EU  revoke its red flag because “Nepali aviation is safe as per ICAO’s indicators.”

[3] Tara Air saw half a dozen major accidents – 3 fatal – in past 16 years


  • [4]from Wikipedia On 27 February 1970, a Nepalese Royal Flightde Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter crashed while taking off at Jomsom Airport, killing one passenger. Three passengers and one crew member survived but the plane was written off.[10]
  • On 8 November 1993, a Nepal AirwaysHarbin Yunshuji Y-12-II scheduled passenger flight overran the runway and fell into the river. There were no fatalities but the plane was written off.[11]
  • On 21 August 1998, a Lumbini Airwaysde Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter leased from the Air Transport Support Centre (ATSC, of the Nepalese CAA) on a late morning scheduled passenger flight from Jomsom to Pokhara impacted Mount Annapurna near Ghorepani at the 7000 ft level. All 18 occupants, three crew and 15 passengers, were killed and the plane damaged beyond repair.[12][13]
  • On 14 May 2012, Agni Air Flight CHTDornier 228, a scheduled passenger flight from Pokhara to Jomsom, crashed into the side of a hill near Marpha village 5 km (3.1 mls) southwest of Jomsom Airport, killing 15 of 21 people on board.[14] The flight attendant and five of the eighteen passengers survived but the plane was damaged beyond repair. The crash claimed the life of Indian child actress Taruni Sachdev.[15] The head of Nepal’s national rescue department reported that the pilot told air traffic control moments before the crash that he was diverting back to Pokhara.[16]
  • On 16 May 2013, Nepal Airlines Flight 555de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter, a scheduled passenger flight from Pokhara to Jomsom carrying 18 adult passengers, one infant, and three crew, crashed while landing at Jomsom at 8:30 AM and fell onto the bank of the Kali Gandaki River. The plane was extensively damaged. There were no fatalities but three people, two crew and one passenger, sustained serious injuries and one crew and six passengers sustained minor injuries. Eight of the plane’s passengers were Japanese tourists while the three crew members and remaining passengers were Nepali.[17] The final report found that the plane landed at excessive speed and too far from the runway threshold in the opposite direction to the notified direction in use with an eight to twelve knot (15 to 22 km/h) tailwind. The aircraft departed the runway to the right side during braking, re-entered the runway under power at speed, and attempted to take off for a go-around with the flaps retracted. With insufficient speed and lift, the takeoff attempt failed and the aircraft overran the runway, breached the perimeter fence, and fell into the river. The Investigation identified inappropriate actions of the aircraft commander in respect of both the initial landing and his response to the subsequent runway excursion and also cited the absence of effective Crew Resource Management.[3]
  • On 24 February 2016Tara Air Flight 193, a Viking Air DHC-6-400 Twin Otterwith registration 9N-AHH, a scheduled domestic passenger flight with 23 people onboard departing from Pokhara at 07:50 am for Jomsom went missing eight minutes after takeoff. Three helicopters dispatched to search for the missing aircraft were initially hampered by bad weather. Hours later, the wreckage and several charred bodies were found. There were no survivors. The crash was the twenty-second loss of a DHC-6 in Nepal, the seventh-deadliest aircraft crash in Nepal, and the world’s fourth-deadliest accident involving a DHC-6.[18][19] It was found that en route, flying under visual flight rules, the flight had deviated to the left and climbed to 12,000 feet (3,658 m) to avoid clouds before beginning a descent to 10,000 feet (3,048 m) after entering cloud. The captain initiated another climb one minute before impact shortly after the ground proximity warning system (GPWS) sounded at 10,200 feet (3,109 m). Flying in cloud with little visibility the plane struck a mountainside at 10,700 feet (3,261 m) and came to a rest at 10,982 feet (3,347 m) near Dana village, Myagdi district.[20][21]


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