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NAC postpones MA60 commercial flight

Nepal Airlines Corporation has postponed the MA60 commercial flight after some administrative delays.

The national flag carrier had earlier planned to start commercial flight of its new China-made aircraft from May 15 but it failed to get the permit from the regulator due to lack of instructor pilot and experienced engineers.

It had imported the 58-seater turboprop Modern Ark 60 (MA60) on April 27 and was planning to start commercial operations by reducing air fare by 50 per cent.

But the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) – the aviation sector regulator – has not yet given the airlines an air operator certificate and air worthiness certificate and radio mobile licence. NAC has also not been able to conduct test flights of the aircraft on planned routes.

NAC has applied for the airworthiness certificate, the initial process for getting the AOC, but the documents are in Chinese language. The aviation regulator has asked the national flag carrier to submit all required documents according to the rule. After validation of the airworthy documents, CAAN’s airworthiness division recommends for the aircraft registration certificate or number, and finally AOC is issued for the new aircraft.

CAAN doesnot allow aircraft to make commercial flights without having a national registration. The national mark of the aircraft registered in Nepal will be 9N – in the figure and letter – and after the national mark there will be a hyphen and a group of three capital letters in Roman character.

Likewise, the airlines also need to appoint an instructor pilot and experienced engineers before getting green signal to start commercial flights.

The airlines has to follow the regulators prescription ritually as it is directly related to air safety, according to the Nepal Airlines that has paid around Rs 20 million in customs duty yesterday.

However, the state-owned airlines has been asking Avic International Holding – the MA60 manufacturer – to send an instructor pilot certified by the Chinese civil aviation regulator they have also failed to find a trainer with English language skills.

According to the regulator, an instructor pilot must have Level 4 English proficiency under the international civil aviation rules.

The NAC pilots, including captains, will accompany instructor pilot for at least 100 flying hours, before they start flying the new aircraft on their own.

Since the European Union has in December blacklisted Nepali aircraft from flying to the European sky, the regulator has been following the safety criterion very carefully.

Meanwhile, six Chinese engineers have arrived to train Nepali engineers for at least six months.