I am in Kathmandu at the moment, and two independent industry insider sources have confirmed that there is a large scale helicopter rescue scam operation going on, and TAAN is deepl;y involved in it.
It goes like this: unsuspecting tourist searches for treks and finds a reliable looking website selling a cheap (maybe also fast) trek to EBC (or ABC etc.). So she/he desides to join, without calculating if a $599 trek to EBC is actually possible, Lukla flights costing almost $400 alone.
This is the scam part: trekkers are made to sign a paper requring them to evaquate themselves, preferably by helicopter, if they get any signs of AMS, intestinal problems, respiratory problems etc. The thing is that many if not most trekkers do get these in mild forms and can still continue without much trouble. Anyway, the whole trek is planned so that NOBODY will be able to make it through: itinerary too fast, diarrhea is caused on purpose by tainting the food, etc.
Each trekker "needing" helicopter evacuation is flown to Kathmandu to a private hospital with connections with the helicopter company, sometimes accompanied by a medical assistant (with no medical training) at added cost. Naturally just one "patient" per flight to maximise the costs. These "patients" are then kept prisoners in the hospital at $1000 day for 3-4 days, passport is confiscated.
At the end the loot from the insurance company, or unlucky individual, is devided by the trekking agency, hospital and the helicopter company so that the agency gets 25% and the helicopter operator/hospital keeps the rest. Traditionally the guide calling the chopper gets 15% of the flight cost, or about $1000. So the nominally $599 trek actually brings in about $11000 per "rescued" trekker.
One of my sources also said the agencies usually do not pay their guides, hotels or air carriers, and those victims can not do much anything about it, as these scammer agencies are quite big with 6-700 trekkers per year. After this goes on for a while the agency is liquidated and money invested somewhere safe, phones disconnected, etc. New agency springs up to take its place.
I asked how TAAN is handling the problem? Answer: it is not, because at the moment TAAN is run and governed by the very people running this racket. Same with government, same people are active in politics and tourism ministery turns a blind eye. As does police.
There have been posts also here about treks where most members had to be evacuated. During my 10+ treks in 33 years with some 30+ people we have never been even near a situation with a need for helicopter rescue. It certainly should ring warning bells if 6 out of 10 trekkers have to be flown out of Dingpoche. So if any of you have a story about helicopter evacuation I would be gratefull to hear about it, circumstances, reasons, what happened after. We need to start collecting evidence of this. Send PM if you are not willing to post publicly.