Nepal plane makes emergency landing after fatal crashes

Nepalese onlookers gather around the Air Kasthamandap crash site in Kalikot District some 650 kms west of Kathmandu on February 26, 2016 (AFP Photo/Khagendra Bhattarai)
A plane with nine passengers on board was forced to make an emergency landing at Kathmandu airport Wednesday, an aviation official said, a week after two deadly crashes highlighted Nepal\’s dismal air safety record.
The 19-seater plane was taking off for Lukla, known as the gateway to Mount Everest, when a bird struck its right wing, Kathmandu airport official Ranjan Bhattarai said.
"The Lukla-bound Goma Air plane made an emergency landing… within three to four minutes of takeoff, due to a bird hit," Bhattarai told AFP.
"No passengers were harmed," he said, adding that engineers were inspecting the grounded aircraft for signs of damage.
The incident comes a week after two deadly plane crashes in the impoverished Himalayan nation, whose air safety record is blamed largely on inadequate maintenance, inexperienced pilots and poor management.
A Twin Otter turboprop aircraft slammed into a mountainside in Nepal last Wednesday killing all 23 people on board.
Two days later, two pilots were killed when a small passenger plane crash-landed in the country\’s hilly midwest.
Birds have traditionally posed a serious safety concern for Kathmandu\’s airport, which is located close to forested hills.
In 2012, a plane crashed shortly after taking off from the airport when it hit a bird, killing all 19 people on board.
An investigation concluded that the pilot panicked, causing the plane to crash.
Despite the risks, air travel is popular in Nepal, which has a limited road network. Many communities, particularly in the mountains and hills, are accessible only on foot or by air.
The European Union blacklisted all Nepal\’s airlines in 2013.
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