A 1997 Beechcraft 1900D, registration 9N-AEK, operated by Buddha Air (U4) and carrying 16 passengers, including 2 Americans and a crew of 3 crashed on Sunday, September 25, 2011 at 7:51 a.m. NPT in heavy rain and fog in the hills near Kotdanda, about 5 miles south by southeast (SSE) from Katmandu, Nepal killing everyone aboard while on the base leg of an approach and attempt to land at Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM), according to reports published on Monday, September 26, 2011 by the Aviation Safety Network, Press TV, San Diego Union-Tribune, New York Post, Los Angeles Times, and other international media sources.
Buddha Air, which is based in Nepal, offers scheduled lights to destinations in Nepal, India, and Bhutan, and began operations in October 1997. This was the first accident in the company’s history.
Each of the tourists on board the nearly 14-year-old aircraft had paid $140 for an “Everest Experience” package from Katmandu around Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain and back.
According to a witness report on Avenues TV, a 24 hour Nepali news channel, “The plane was flying very low. We were surprised. It crashed into the hill and there was a huge explosion.”
The plane had crashed into a wooded hillside, and broke up into multiple pieces, as shown in the attached slide show and video clip which accompany this report.
Local police had initially reported that one person had survived the crash, but he died later at a local hospital.
The aircraft, one of three Beechcraft 1900D planes operated by the airline, was carrying 10 Indians, 2 Americans, one Japanese citizen, and 3 local passengers from Nepal, a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas between the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) and India, with an estimated population of just under 30 million people.
According to the Aviation Safety Network, the turboprop plane was powered by 2 Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67D engines, each developing 1,279 shaft horsepower, and was following another tourist flight in the approach pattern, just minutes away from landing.
Winds were described as calm, visibility was nearly 4 miles, with few clouds at 1000 feet, and scattered clouds at 2500 feet; sky was overcast at 10,000 feet; temperature was reported at 20 degrees Celsius or 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
Other aircraft had landed safely operating under normal visual flight rules (VFR) on the 10,007 foot concrete surfaced runway, oriented north by south at 020/200 degrees, at an elevation of 4,390 feet, over 1,000 feet lower in elevation than Denver International Airport (DEN).
Tribhuvan International Airport is a busy facility served by at least 30 carriers that connect Nepal to various destinations in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.
There have been 10 separate incidents involving aircraft headed to Nepal from 1972 to the present. The worst accidents included the crash of Thai Airways International Flight TG-311, an Airbus A310-304, which went down on approach to Tribhuvan International Airport on July 31, 1992, killing all 113 on board; and the crash of Pakistan International Airlines Flight PK-268, an Airbus A300B4-203 which also crashed on approach to KTM later that same year, on September 28, 1992, killing 167 persons.
The Beechcraft 1900 is a 19-passenger, pressurized twin-engine turboprop airplane manufactured by the Beechcraft Division of the Raytheon Company (now Hawker Beechcraft). It was designed, and is primarily used, as a regional airliner.
The Beechcraft 1900D has a high ceiling cabin design, which allows passengers to walk to their seats while standing upright. It was introduced in February 1983, and about 695 aircraft were produced between 1982-2002 at a unit cost of just under $5 million. It has a cruising speed of 322 mph, a range of 439 miles carrying 19 passengers, a service ceiling of 25,000 feet, and a rate of climb of 2,615 feet/minute.
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