China to assist Nepal to re-certify MA60 aircraftThe Civil Aviation Administration of China (Caac) has decided to help Nepal re-certify the Chinese-made MA60 after the International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao) questioned the country’s capability to issue a type-certificate for the aircraft, Director General Sanjiv Gautam of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) said.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (Caac) has decided to help Nepal re-certify the Chinese-made MA60 after the International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao) questioned the country’s capability to issue a type-certificate for the aircraft, Director General Sanjiv Gautam of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) said.
Gautam was speaking at a seminar entitled ‘Aviation Cooperation between Nepal and China: Opportunities and Challenges’ held on Wednesday.
On October 23, 2013, Caan had issued a type-certificate for the MA60 allowing it to operate in Nepali skies.
A Caan technical team said the 56-seater turboprop manufactured by Xi’an Aircraft International Corporation had been designed as per the specifications of Chinese Civil Aviation Regulations 25 issued by Caac, and was compatible with the US Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Federal Aviation Regulations, Part 25.
However, questions were raised about the plane’s airworthiness as it had not yet been certified by the FAA.
“After the certificate was issued, Icao raised concerns about Nepal’s capability to issue it,” said Gautam. “The global aviation watchdog asked us to repeat the process,” he said, adding that Icao’s safety bureau chief had discussed the issue with Caac. “Caac will provide us the tool kits for the re-certification process.”
On November 29, 2012, Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) and AVIC International Holdings had signed a commercial agreement for six aircraft. One MA60 and one 17-seater Y12e arrived in Kathmandu on April 27 and November 3, 2014 respectively under this deal. These two aircraft were provided to Nepal as gifts.
However, NAC found the planes to be financially unviable due to their poor performance after test flying them on a number of routes, and wrote to the Tourism Ministry on January 26 telling it so. The procurement of the rest of the aircraft on order had been put on hold since then.
Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Aananda Prasad Pokhrel said that the government would bring the remaining four aircraft by May this year. “We have also planned to sign a soft loan agreement with China EXIM Bank to construct a regional international airport in Pokhara,” he said.
Chinese ambassador to Nepal Wu Chuntai said that cooperation between Nepal and China in the field of tourism and civil aviation had reached new heights, and that the relations could be further strengthened.
He added that Nepal had formally become one of the founding members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and this could be provide financing for major infrastructure projects in Nepal.
“China’s policy towards Nepal is a policy of conviction.” The envoy said that Nepal would be receiving more and more Chinese tourists in the near future with the enhanced tourism and aviation cooperation.
On the same occasion, Xu Bo, vice-president of AVIC International Holdings, said that the company’s cooperation would extend to more areas including hangar construction, airport facility improvement and staff training, among others. “We are committed to supporting NAC as well as opening more routes in remote areas.”