US-Bangla Airlines CEO Imran Asif flanked by Captain Mohammad Zakaria & First Officer Abdur Rouf at a press conference - Photo: Monitor
US-Bangla Airlines CEO Imran Asif (on his left) Captain Mohammad Zakaria & First Officer Abdur Rouf, (right) Bangladesh Monitor, Editor & Publisher Kazi Wahidul Alam and Wing Commander (Retd) Hasan Masud at a press conference - Photo: Monitor
US-Bangla Airlines Dhaka-Coxs Bazar flight emergency landing
DHAKA: US-Bangla Airlines operates its all the domestic and international flights complying with all the standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
Imran Asif speaking at a crowded press conference at Pan Pacific Sonargaon hotel on October 3, explained the reason for emergency landing of Dhaka-Cox’s Bazar BS-141 flight at Chittagong airport.
Imran Asif said, “Before take-off, any aircraft of US-Bangla Airlines undergoes technical checking three times. Foreign engineers check the flight at night a day before the flight and then it is checked by local engineers. Then the captain of the aircraft re-checks the aircraft after having the certificates in his/her hands.”
“On completion of all the cross-checking, an aircraft is put in place and cleared for take-off for a flight,” he said.
Some 17 engineers from Europe, Canada and US have been appointed to examine the aircraft and 62 expert-level local engineers are also working for the company, he added.
Referring to the emergency landing of the US-Bangla flight at Shah Amanat International Airport, Imran Asif said the Cox’s Bazar-bound flight of the airline (BS-141) with 171 passengers on board made the emergency landing on September 26 as the nose gear of the aircraft was not working due to technical glitches.
The primary reasons of most of the emergency landings were due to jammed nose gear caused by mechanical problems, except for few incidents for pilots’ error, he added.
The Boeing 737-800 aircraft which made emergency landing at Chittagong Airport is being investigated by Civil Aviation Authority, Bangladesh (CAAB) and also by a team from US manufacturer Boeing.
After Boeing investigation, repair of the nose gear and check for any structural damages, the United States’ National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will have to clear the aircraft for flying in the sky.
Meanwhile, after the incident in Chittagong, the CAAB conducted a procedural full audit of US-Bangla operations for two days at Dhaka. There was zero-finding, nothing with airworthiness of the airlines fleet of commercial aircrafts, apart for few suggestions, which was immediately complied with.
He presented several case studies of retracted nose wheels of different American airlines JetBlue, SouthWest, flyBe and India’s Jet airways. The Southwest airline has the largest number of Boeing 737 in its fleet and kept flying despite few mishaps.
He said that US-Bangla maintains high standard in flight operations and follows the guidelines of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), is a specialised agency of the United Nation.
The press conference was also attended by the two cockpit “heroes”, Captain Mohammad Zakaria and First Officer Abdur Rouf who were praised for saving 164 passengers and seven crews.
Others who spoke at the occasion were Wing Commander (Retd) Hasan Masud and Bangladesh Monitor, Editor and Publisher Kazi Wahidul Alam.
Captain Zakaria said the passengers were debriefed couple of times to physically prepare for emergency landing. The cabin crew did their job very professionally.
Eulogising the role of the cabin crew, he said they did a fabulous job in evacuation of all the passengers within few minutes. He also admired the air traffic controllers of Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar, as well as the Bangladesh Air Force BAF Base Zahurul Haque, and the emergency crew who made it possible for a safe emergency landing at Shah Amanat International Airport.
Describing the flight, Captain Zakaria said at the final approach at Cox’s Bazar, the BS-141 flight was cleared for landing by Cox Bazar tower after runway was in sight. Ten miles away from the airport, during routine check for preparing to land, the cockpit crew found that the nose gear did not open.
He told the journalists that the nose gear cannot be seen from the cockpit. The pilots have depend on digital signs in the cockpit.
The Captain and First Officer also sought advice of the US-Bangla maintenance engineers in Dhaka. Additional procedure were followed on advises from ground engineers. The cockpit crew opted for manual system to release the gear, but it was jammed, Captain Zakaria explained.
While cruising towards Chittagong airport, the tower was alerted and the aircraft cleared for emergency landing. The pilots went around Chittagong airport burning aviation fuel, also made futile attempts three or four times to release the nose wheel.
“We decided to land with gear-up and permission was immediately granted by Chittagong control tower. The plane stopped at the centre line, which was another miracle, thus saving the lives of 171 passengers and crew,” Zakaria told the journalists.
Responding to a question, the Captain said pilots also have to conduct routine check of the aircraft based on Boeing 737 manual before flying. This is beside maintenance check by ground engineers, he said.
US-Bangla CEO after asked by a journalist for the feeling of the morale of the air travellers, he said the carrier is flying in 50 sectors. The air travellers are very knowledgeable and they do their own research before embarking upon a flight.
"None has lost confidence on US-Bangla Airlines," Imran Asif said.
Kazi Wahidul Alam said the Chittagong airport was an incident not an accident, as reported in some media.
The US-Bangla Airlines, NOVOAIR and Regent Airways are doing very well, despite challenges. It could be understood from the debacle of other private airlines which had closed down their business.
As a pioneer in editing and publishing a newspaper on aviation and tourism industry for 27 years, he urged the media to report responsibly, otherwise it may cause negative impact on passengers, travel agents as well on the private carriers, he said.