But the audit, according to local news media reports, still expressed concerns over shortcomings in air navigation, investigation of incidents and the organizational structure necessary for implementing safety standards.
Before the pandemic, Nepal had seen a steady expansion of air travel, both domestic and international. Tourism, which brings hundreds of millions of dollars into the country, one of the poorest in the region, has been picking up again after a sharp drop during the pandemic. Experts and officials have long been concerned about airports’ ability to meet the expanded demand.
Nepal’s difficult terrain, with some of the highest mountain ranges in the world, means that a large share of air travel is carried out on small planes that travel between the country’s nearly four dozen small airports. Larger, international flights are mostly limited to Nepal’s main airport in the capital, Kathmandu. A third international airport was inaugurated this month in Pokhara, the site of Sunday’s crash, after construction funded by a $200 million Chinese loan.
Bijender Siwach, a retired military pilot and the director general of Aviation Safety India, a nonprofit that conducts training and accident analysis, said that the videos of the accident suggested that weather and terrain were not factors, because the skies were clear and the aircraft was in close range of the landing strip.
While definitive answers will come only from the investigation, Mr. Siwach said, the cause may have been mechanical failure or a case of human error that put the plane into what is known as a stall. In such a case, the aircraft slows down too much to be able to remain aloft and goes out of control.
“If it had happened at 5,000 or 10,000 feet, the aircraft could have recovered at 2,000 feet if the pilot had responded,” Mr. Siwach said. “But because the height was too low, 200 or 300 feet maybe, the pilot had no chance.”