Jomsom lies on the arid north side of the Himalaya, and has operations only in the mornings because of high winds and cloud build up during the course of the day. And Jomsom airport is the gateway for tourists visiting Nepal’s Mustang District, and also for Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims going to the sacred shrine at Muktinath.
The route has seen many fatal accidents in recent decades, most of them involving Twin Otters, and nearly all due to controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) during bad weather. In fact 90% of accidents in Nepal since 1960 have been due to disoriented pilots hitting mountains hidden by clouds.
The previous almost identical accident on this route, also Tara Air, was of a brand new Viking Twin Otter near Dana in 2016 in which 23 people were killed. In 2012 an Agni Air Dornier 228 crashed while landing at Jomsom, killing 15 of the 22 on board.
In 1997 a Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) Twin Otter chartered by Lumbini Air crashed on a flight from Jomsom to Pokhara in, killing all 19 on board. In 2002 a Shangrila Air Twin Otter from Jomsom crashed just south of Pokhara killing 17 passengers and crew. In 2013 a Nepal Airlines Twin Otter had a runway excursion while landing in Jomsom, but there were no fatalities.