A new airport in Nepal – the destination of a plane that crashed last weekend – did not have a working instrument landing system.
That will remain the case until 26 February, 56 days after the airport opened on 1 January, said Jagannath Niroula from Nepal‘s Civil Aviation Authority.
An instrument landing system is extra useful when pilots are struggling with visibility, although conditions on Sunday were good, with low winds, clear skies and temperatures well above freezing.
All 72 people travelling on the Yeti Airlines plane died when the aircraft plummeted into a gorge as it approached Pokhara International Airport after flying from the capital, Kathmandu, 125 miles away.
The crash site, at a height of 2,700ft (820 metres), is only a mile from the runway.
Yeti Airlines said the plane’s cockpit voice recorder would be analysed locally, while the flight data recorder will be sent to France. Both were retrieved on Monday.
While the cause of the crash remains unclear, aviation experts said video of it appeared to indicate the twin-engine ATR-500 went into a stall.
Pilot Amit Singh, founder of India’s Safety Matters Foundation, said the lack of an instrument landing system or navigational aids could be a “contributory cause” of the crash and pointed to a “notoriously bad air safety culture in Nepal”.
He added: “Flying in Nepal becomes challenging if you don’t have navigational aids and puts an extra workload on the pilot whenever they experience problems during a flight.
“Lack of an instrument landing system only reaffirms that Nepal’s air safety culture is not adequate.”
According to the Safety Matters Foundation, there have been 42 fatal plane crashes in mountainous Nepal since 1946.
Nepali airlines have been banned from flying to the European Union since 2013, with the EU citing weak safety standards.
In 2017, the International Civil Aviation Organisation noted improvements in Nepal’s aviation sector but the EU continues to demand administrative reforms.
Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Nepal’s prime minister, met bereaved families on Thursday and asked hospital authorities to carry out remaining post-mortem examinations as quickly as possible.
Several badly burned bodies have still not been identified, authorities said.