Nepal plane crash kills all 72 on board

On Jan. 15, 2023, Yeti Airlines Flight 691, an ATR-72 regional plane, crashed just before landing at Pokhara, Nepal, resulting in the death of all 72 people on board, including 68 passengers and 4 crew members. The 27 minute flight was traveling from Kathmandu to Pokhara.

This crash was the deadliest involving an ATR-72, and the deadliest in Nepal since 1992. Plane crashes are unfortunately somewhat common in the country, with 11 reported in the past 11 years due in part to challenging weather and topography. However, this crash in particular took place in relatively normal weather conditions, with low winds, clear skies and temperatures above freezing.

The plane crashed into a gorge around one mile away from the newly opened Pokhara International Airport. The cause of the crash was a result of engine failure, determined through investigation of the flight data. The engines of the plane both went into “feather in the base leg of descending,” the government-appointed panel who analyzed the crash said in a statement. Feathering is when the leading edge of a propeller blade is turned to face forward to reduce drag while gliding. According to videos recorded on the ground, the plane’s nose went up before it plummeted out of sight. Passengers’ onboard videos show passengers screaming before the crash.

Of the passengers, 37 were men, 25 were women and six were children, including three infants. Among them were at least 4 US residents. 71 bodies have been recovered from the crash site. 60 of the bodies have already been returned to families, six bodies have been identified and are being sent to families and five bodies have yet to be identified.

The plane was piloted by senior captain Kamal KC and copiloted by Anju Khatiwada. Khatiwada’s husband also died in a plane crash in 2006, which was the catalyst for her own pilot training. She was also one of the six women employed as pilots for Yeti Airlines, and has flown over 6,400 hours. She had flown the same pah to Pokhara many times in the past, as it was a common flight route for tourists.