Early on Sunday morning, a small passenger plane fell out of the sky in Pokhara, Nepal, resulting in the deaths of at least 68 people. Among them was an Australian, along with 57 Nepalis, five Indians, four Russians, two South Koreans, and one person each from Argentina, Ireland and France.

This is the worst aviation disaster Nepal has experienced in decades. Unfortunately, the mountainous country has long grappled with aviation safety problems. Since 2000, over 350 people have perished in small-scale plane crashes; the European Union has had Nepali carriers on its safety ban list for a decade now.

A range of factors has contributed to Nepal’s poor aviation safety record, writes aviation expert Chrystal Zhang from RMIT University. Dramatic topography and unpredictable weather conditions are part of the tale, but so is a fast-growing appetite for domestic flights that has outpaced the development of safe, modern aviation infrastructure.

Despite all this, Nepal has been stepping up its efforts by making improvements to airports and equipment, and by fostering a more robust safety culture.

Signe Dean

Science + Technology Editor

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