Investigators Find Fault with Wing Flaps in Fatal Crash
KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) _ Investigators said Friday that the pilot of a Thai Airways airliner struggled with faulty wing flaps before the plane overflew Katmandu airport and smashed into a Himalayan mountain, killing all 113 people on board.
It was not clear from the initial investigation whether pilot error or a mechanical fault was to blame for the July 31 disaster on the flight from Bangkok by the Airbus A310-300. Eleven Americans were among the victims.
The report made no mention of the heavy monsoon rains lashing the airport that reduced visibility and hid the mountains that surround the fertile Katmandu Valley.
The nine-member enquiry commission released its findings based on an analysis of the flight data recorder, or ″black box,″ and the cockpit voice recorder. Both devices were sent to experts in Canada.
Flight TG311, carrying 99 passengers and 14 crew, ″was proceeding normally until the crew encountered a fault while attempting to make the required flap selection prior to landing,″ the report said.
The pilot reported that he managed to lower the flaps, but had approached too close to the runway and asked permission to circle around for another approach, the report said.
The report said the captain was cleared to turn for a new approach, retracted his flaps and made his turn to the right.
″But the turn continued past a southerly direction and the aircraft stopped its turn when heading north again″ toward the mountains, the report said.
The navigation system emitted a warning that the plane was too close to the ground. ″It appears that the crew had just initiated a climb when the aircraft hit the mountain,″ said the report.
The aircraft, made by a European consortium, smashed into Talukashir Ridge at an altitude of 11,500 feet, pulverizing the plane. Only four of the recovered bodies could be identified.
Later, a British test pilot investigating the mountainous crash scene died of high altitude sickness.