It has been found that Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) has been operating its 9N-AKX Lumbini A320 aircraft with a dysfunctional emergency code on its cockpit door for more than three months now.

Entering the code triggers an alarm in the cockpit and automatically opens the cockpit door for a few seconds, allowing crew members to get inside and administer first aid in case of an emergency.

If the pilots suspect they are being hijacked and want to prevent anyone from getting inside the cockpit, they can activate the “lock”. This would lock the door irrevocably for a few minutes.

The emergency access code on the cockpit door is said one of the no-go items, meaning that it must prevent the dispatch of the aircraft if such item gets ruined, as per the NAC air services manual.

“This negligence has once again laid bare the state of aviation safety in Nepal, running contrary to claims of significant improvements in Nepali skies made by the honchos of the aviation regulators as well as the airline operators,” said a senior captain at the NAC.

“All responsible persons, including NAC chairman, operation director, chief pilot, instructor pilot, safety manager, chief of cabin crew and engineering director, are aware of the issue,” he added.

As per air security guidelines, there must be proper access to pilots in emergencies – for instance, if cabin crew has to administer first aid to a pilot. This could arise in the event of gas poisoning, rendering both pilots on the cockpit unconscious. So, the emergency access code is used to open the cockpit door from the cabin to help pilots in an emergency.

CAAN’s safety inspector Biswambhar Man Amatya said he would check with NAC and other concerned departments today to understand the issue in detail.