Chinese aircraft to begin commercial flights todayNepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) has said it will put its two newly acquired Chinese aircraft into commercial operation on Wednesday, bringing the number of planes serving domestic routes to six.
Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) has said it will put its two newly acquired Chinese aircraft into commercial operation on Wednesday, bringing the number of planes serving domestic routes to six.
The national flag carrier received its second MA60 and Y12e on January 26 and February 1 respectively, two years after receiving the first batch of two aircraft from China as gifts.
NAC Spokesperson Rabindra Shrestha said that they would be adding a daily flight on the Kathmandu-Bhairahawa route. “We will not be expanding our domestic network immediately,” he said.
The 17-seater Y12e was brought to fly to mountain airfields, but it is currently serving the Pokhara, Bhairahawa, Nepalgunj and Simara routes even though flying small aircraft on these sectors is not financially feasible.
“We have not operated these aircraft on flights to mountain airfields because we need to complete the documentation process first.”
The first Y12e arrived in Kathmandu in 2014 and was intended to serve remote mountain airfields like Lukla, Jomsom, Manang, Simikot, Rara, Jumla and Dolpa. But its regulatory limit meant that it could only fly to airports with a maximum grade of up to 2 percent or about 1.2 degrees of slope.
As a result, the Y12e was only operated on the Pokhara and Simara sectors, pending the issuance of a certificate by the manufacturer clearing it to serve airports with a slope of more than 2 degrees.
Most of the short take-off and landing (STOL) airfields in Nepal including Lukla in Khumbu are above the regulatory limit. According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan), the aircraft manufacturer has to issue a gradient certificate after conducting a test flight.
According to the performance analysis report of the Y12e aircraft submitted to the Tourism Ministry in 2015, it flies well in very cold weather, with performance falling with a rise in temperature and altitude.
The Y12e can carry 16 passengers in all-weather conditions from Lukla to Kathmandu; but from Kathmandu to Lukla, the passenger load has to be reduced to 13, according to the report.
The Y12e is totally unsuitable for the Pokhara-Manang sector, according to the report. The allowable cabin load is seven passengers at 0 degrees, two passengers at 10 degrees, one passenger at 12 degrees and zero passengers at 14 degrees Celsius respectively.
The aircraft can carry 12 passengers in all-weather conditions from Biratnagar to Taplejung. Likewise, on the Jomsom-Pokhara route, it can fly with 16 passengers in all-weather conditions; but on the return flight, the passenger load has to be reduced to 14, the report said.
NAC, however, said that they would fly the aircraft on routes that are feasible.
Similarly, the 56-seater MA60 has been put on trunk routes like Kathmandu-Biratnagar, Kathmandu-Bhadrapur and Kathmandu-Dhangadhi. According to the winter schedule published by the corporation, the four Chinese-made aircraft are being used to serve only seven routes. In contrast, NAC’s two vintage Twin Otters have been serving 13 destinations in the mountains.