Back in 2015 a Turkish Airlines Airbus A330 veered off the runway in Kathmandu, Nepal after landing with 227 passengers on board, since then the jet has been written off and parked there.
The logistics were enormous with the large aircraft requiring to be cut into ten pieces just to transport it less than a kilometer away from the site where it remained since the incident that lead to the eternal grounding of the big bird.
John wrote about the accident in March 2015 (see our article here).
… Flight TK726 was on its way to Katmandu, Nepal’s capital, from Istanbul carrying 227 passengers and 11 crew members when one of its wheels left the runway and hit a grassy area while landing at Tribhuvan International Airport, according to Purna Chudal, an official at the airport. All the passengers and the crew members are safe, he said. …
Now, two years after the runway accident ended the life of the plane prematurely, it will have a new purpose as a museum for aviation enthusiasts visiting or residing in Nepal.
The Nepali Times (access here) reported about the efforts of one prominent local businessman and pilot in his own right to make it happen.
When Bed Upreti was a boy, his father used to walk him from Dadeldhura to Dhangadi and back – a journey of 10 days one way. Sometimes, the young boy got to ride a horse and earned a family reputation for adventure and risk-taking.
After his studies, Upreti joined the Army and eventually became a pilot to enjoy his passion for exploration. He flew for a private airline and was then recruited by Kingfisher in India. Today, he is an ATR 72-600 instructor pilot and simulator trainer for Lion Air in Indonesia. …
After publishing picture books of aerial photography, Upreti bought an abandoned Fokker 100 jet in Kathmandu, dismantled and transported it 700km to Dhangadi to set up an Aviation Museum.
Encouraged by unexpected visitor numbers and feedback, he embarked on an even more ambitious project. Every time he flew back to Kathmandu airport, he used to see a parked Airbus 330-300 that had suffered a runway excursion incident in 2015 and had been written off.
He bought the plane, and in partnership with the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), is setting up an even bigger Aviation Museum in Kathmandu. Across the Ring Road in Sinamangal, the huge jet is being reassembled after being cut into ten pieces and trucked over.
“Bringing the Airbus here from 500m away was more difficult than taking the Fokker from Kathmandu to Dhangadi,” says Upreti, “this is a much bigger aircraft and the museum and the project is six times more costly.”
Once completed in September, visitors will first climb up to the aircraft through a ramp into what used to be business class, watch a slideshow about aviation and go into the cockpit to look out at Kathmandu airport and listen to air traffic control. The cabin has a section on aviation history and will have a replica of the Wright Brother’s plane which is being made by Pulchok Campus engineering students. As an avid photographer, Upreti will also have an exhibition of aerial pictures taken all over Nepal.
The Airbus galley will serve as a small kitchen for a café at the back of the plane where there is also a section on Humla.
There is also a corresponding video to this article uploaded by the Nepali Times on Youtube:
This is an amazing project that requires a lot of effort and investment to offset the expenses of the entire logistics and restoration work.
I found this story interesting not just because the aviation aspect of it but also because there is no way that the museum will bring back the revenue invested into all of this. It’s more like the philanthropic effort behind this project paired with Mr. Upreti’s love for aviation is the driving factor here to give something back to the community.