Tuesday, February 13, 2018

NAC lacks pilots to fly Chinese aircraft

Though Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) now has 4 Harbin Y 12-e aircraft in its fleet – after it received 2 aircraft today – the national flag carrier has only 3 pilots to command the aircraft.
The airlines need to have 8 pilots to fly according to the schedule, but with only 3 pilots at present, the aircraft seem to remain in the parking lot until the NAC recruits pilots to fly them. Under present circumstances, the new aircraft will remain grounded at the airport.
According to Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) rule, airline companies should have five pilots – 2 captain and 3 co-pilots or 3 captains and 2 co-pilots - per small aircraft.
Two new Chinese aircraft procured by NAC from China landed at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu today. According to NAC, 2 Harbin Y 12-e aircraft landed at the TIA today afternoon at the interval of half an hour.
The new aircraft will be coming via Dhaka, Bangladesh and will be flown by foreign pilots.
The NAC is looking for senior flying crews for the Y12e. It has also published an advertisement to hire foreign captains.
A team of NAC left for China to take delivery of the 2 remaining Chinese-made Y-12e planes on January 30. CAAN has given the new aircraft 9N-AKU and 9N-AKV call signs, according to the NAC.
The two 17-seater aircraft are a part of grant and loan agreement that Nepal had signed with China's AVIC International Aero-Development to procure 6 aircraft, 2 MA 60s and 4 Harbin Y 12-e aircraft in November 2012. Of them, one MA 60 and one Harbin Y 12-e were grant – by February last year and are conducting domestic flights – while China has arranged concessional loan to purchase on MA 60 and three Harbin Y 12-e aircraft.
The first batch of two Y12e arrived in Kathmandu in 2014, and were intended to serve remote mountain airfields like Lukla, Jomsom, Manang, Simikot, Rara, Jumla and Dolpa. But the aircraft faced regulatory limits, which meant they could only fly to airports with a maximum grade of up to 2 per cent or about 1.2 degrees of slope.
As a result, the Y12e have been only operating on the Pokhara and Simara sectors, pending the issuance of a certificate by the manufacturer clearing them to serve airports with a slope of more than 2 degrees.
The cost of 4 aircraft is $ 35 million, said the NAC that has repaid most of the loans and only around $3.5 million is remaining.
NAC will now have a total of 8 aircraft for domestic destinations, though it lacks enough pilots to fly them. With the new planes, the NAC has planned to fly them to some faraway cities, including Dang in the mid-western region and Janakpur in eastern region and some remote airports.
The national flag carrier plans to increase its share in the domestic sky with new aircraft. The stakeholders, however, fear that the aircraft might turn white elephants due to its high maintenance cost and low productivity.


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