KATHMANDU — On the morning of Jan. 16, the day after Yeti Airlines Flight 691 crashed near Pokhara International Airport in Nepal, killing all 72 people on board, authorities at the newly inaugurated airport were alarmed by yet another incident. A plane plying the same Kathmandu-Pokhara route as the ill-fated Flight 691 struck a steppe eagle (Aquila nipalensis) upon approach to the airport. The plane didn’t suffer major damage, but the endangered bird of prey was killed. Following the incident, a team from the airport quickly cleared the debris from the runway, according to a photographer who witnessed the incident and shared the photos online.   Pokhara Airport officials cleaning the runway after a steppe eagle hit an aircraft on Jan. 16. The incident came as various international experts suggest a possible link between the Jan. 15 crash, one of the worst in Nepal’s aviation history, and the possibility of a bird strike. Mongabay reported last year about conservationists’ concerns over the large number of birds, especially vultures, that frequent the area near the airport, and the risks posed to both aviation safety and wildlife conservation. “The crash took place after the pilot decided to approach the [north]east-[south]west runway from the western side after making all preparations to land from the eastern side,” a Kathmandu-based pilot told Mongabay.  “Landing from the western end at the new airport requires technical expertise which the pilot may not have had,” the captain said. “We don’t know why they decided to change the approach…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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