Nepal Airlines to add its fleet with turboprop planes

The MA60 aircraft. Photo: File/internet
The MA60 aircraft. Photo: File/internet

KATHMANDU, Nepal- Nepal Airlines Corporation, the national flag carrier, which is in its ailing state with its decade old two Boeings, will soon be equipped with the turboprop MA60 aircrafts.

The chances of NA to procure China-made MA60 aircrafts has been secured after the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal ( CAAN ) has issued type certificate to Chinese-made MA60 aircraft, allowing the plane to enter the Nepali skies for the first time for civilian transport.

A type certificate is a regulating body’s approval, given to a manufacturing design that cannot be changed. It reflects a determination made by the regulating body that the aircraft is manufactured according to an approved design, and that the design ensures compliance with airworthiness requirements.

Although the CAAN is yet to confirm the development, a Kathmandu Post daily reports referring to senior officials at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation that said the authority informed the ministry about the issuance of the certificate on Tuesday evening.

The issuance of the certificate has opened the doors for ailing Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) to procure the 58-seater turboprop planes manufactured by Xi’an Aircraft International Corporation.

As per the Civil Aviation Rules 2002, the Director General of the CAAN upon receiving the application shall provide aircraft type certificate to the applicant after making necessary inquiry.

The CAAN move comes after the Type Certification Board submitted its report to CAAN Director General Ratish Chandra Lal Suman in mid-September, recommending that the MA60 (Modern Ark 60) aircraft’s technical and other capabilities compliances “are reliable”.

The board led by former CAAN deputy director general Shambu Adhikari had in its report recommended that Modern Ark 60 aircraft was fit for Nepali skies with “its reliable technical and other capabilities.”

China has pledged providing a 19-seater Harbin Y-12e and a 58- seater MA60 turboprop in grant while the Nepal government has also planned to purchase four other aircraft, three Harbin Y-12e and a MA60, by taking soft loans from the Chinese EXIM Bank.

The board, assigned to verify the design and manufacturing standards of the jet, prepared its report following the two-week long visit to China. The report said that the aircraft has been made keeping the checklist, which the planemaker had submitted to CAAN earlier, intact.

AVIC International Holding, the maker of MA60 planes, had applied for the type certificate earlier in March this year. However, the CAAN had not responded to the applicant stating that the issuance of type certificate was a “serious job” and “needed rigorous exercises.”

Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation of Nepal sources said once the CAAN issues type certificate, the government will initiate final homeworks to purchase aircraft from the northern neighbor.

On Aug. 7, 2011, NAC had written to the Finance Ministry, requesting it to purchase eight aircraft with foreign grants. In November 2011, the ministry requested China to provide the aircraft either under grant or soft loans. The Chinese side responded positively, expressing their readiness to provide some aircraft under grant and some under soft loans.

Meanwhile, some analysts, however, have raised questions over the plane’s airworthyness as it has not yet been certified by the US Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) Part 25.

A type certificate is issued to signify the airworthiness of an aircraft’s manufacturing design. The certificate is issued by a regulating body and it reflects a determination made by the regulating body that the aircraft is manufactured according to an approved design, and that the design ensures compliance with airworthiness requirements.



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