Pilot Error In Yeti Airlines Tragedy in Nepal?

February 17, 2023
Yeti Airlines

Pilot error appears to be the cause of the Yeti Airlines ATR72 crash in Nepal on January 15, 2023, which claimed 72 lives.

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According to the preliminary report from the Nepalese Aircraft Accident Investigation Commission one of the Yeti Airlines pilots selected the lever that feathers the props instead of the one next to it that lowers the flaps.

The report said:

“At 10:56:27, the PF (Pilot Flying) disengaged the Autopilot System (AP) at an altitude of 721 feet Above Ground Level (AGL). The PF then called for “FLAPS 30” at 10:56:32, and the PM (Pilot Monitoring) replied, “Flaps 30 and descending”. The flight data recorder (FDR) data did not record any flap surface movement at that time. Instead, the propeller rotation speed (Np) of both engines decreased simultaneously to less than 25% and the torque (Tq) started decreasing to 0%, which is consistent with both propellers going into the feathered condition. When propellers are in feather, they are not producing thrust.”

Feathering of the prop moves the angle of the prop from producing thrust to a neutral position and not producing thrust.

The yeti Airlines flight was operated by two Captains, one Captain was in the process of obtaining aerodrome familiarization for operating into Pokhara and the other Captain was the instructor pilot. The Captain being familiarized, who was occupying the left-hand seat, was the Pilot Flying (PF) and the instructor pilot, occupying the right-hand seat, was the Pilot Monitoring (PM).

The stick shaker was activated twice, warning of an aerodynamic stall, the final time at 10:57:26 and the aircraft “banked towards the left abruptly.”

The full interim report can be downloaded here.

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