NAC team set to bring remaining Chinese planesOfficials of Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) left for Harbin, China on Tuesday to take delivery of the remaining two out of its order for six aircraft—three years after they were manufactured.
Officials of Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) left for Harbin, China on Tuesday to take delivery of the remaining two out of its order for six aircraft—three years after they were manufactured.
The five-member team of technicians will inspect the 17-seater Y12e aircraft made by Harbin Aircraft Industry Group of China, NAC spokesperson Rabindra Shrestha said. “After the inspection is completed, the two aircraft will be brought to Nepal which will take at least 10-12 days.”
The manufacturer completed assembling the Y12e for Nepal in early 2015. The aircraft have been sitting in the factory hangar since then. As it has been a long time since the planes were made, they need to be examined before they can be flown to Nepal, said Shrestha.
In November 2012, NAC had signed a commercial agreement with AVIC, a Chinese government undertaking, to procure six aircraft—two 56-seater MA60 and four 17-seater Y12e.
One 56-seater MA60 and one 17-seater Y12e arrived in Kathmandu in April and November 2014 respectively under this deal. These two aircraft were provided to Nepal as gifts.
NAC put off taking delivery of the rest of the planes for two years following problems, including load restrictions, with the two that had joined its fleet in the first lot.
In February 2017, the corporation received another MA60 and Y-12e aircraft after being assured by the manufacturer China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC) that it would provide every help necessary to keep them flying in the Nepali skies. However, the process of bringing the remaining two Y12e stalled due to lack of flight crews.
According to Shrestha, NAC has now produced pilots to fly the aircraft. NAC has prepared three senior pilots, a dozen co-pilots and an instructor pilot for the Y12e aircraft. The corporation plans to resume flights on remote domestic routes that had been suspended due to lack of aircraft once these aircraft arrive.
Recently, NAC had
asked the Tourism Ministry to settle the final installment of the payment to the aircraft supplier.
The corporation had written to the ministry to ask for the Finance Ministry’s approval to release the payment through China EXIM Bank. China has provided one MA60 and one Y12e worth Rs2.94 billion as gifts. The other aircraft are being bought with a soft loan of Rs3.72 billion provided by the bank.
Following the arrival of the two Y-12e aircraft, the national flag carrier’s domestic fleet will swell to nine planes including three vintage Twin Otters. During its heyday, NAC used to operate 18 aircraft—12 Twin Otters, three Avros and three Pilatus Porters—to 42 stations across the country. The Canadian International Development Agency donated seven Twin Otters to NAC between 1972 and 1979.
The airline has also started work to buy at least four de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft, currently marketed as the Viking Air DHC-6 Twin Otter.