Money

‘NAC should buy six Twin Otter planes’

Aviation expansion

- Post Report, Kathmandu

A committee has made its recommendation to buy six new Viking Air DHC6-400 Twin Otter aircraft to Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC). The five-member committee had been formed to evaluate the need for NAC to purchase new aircraft to serve the domestic sector.

Led by NAC’s Deputy Managing Director Ganesh Bahadur Chand, the committee submitted the report last week recommending the management to purchase aircraft to expand its remote area services.

As the management has been discussing a buyback deal with the Twin Otter aircraft manufacturer under which it can trade in its three vintage Twin Otters, the committee has suggested continuing the two deals separately, said Rabindra Shrestha, spokesperson of NAC. “The committee has suggested that the old Twin Otters belonging to NAC be sold or auctioned separately.”

The management is expected to table the report at the NAC’s board for its approval soon, he said, adding that after the board’s approval, the corporation would initiate the process of arranging financial resources to buy the new planes.  “The deal is expected to cost $7 million for each aircraft. However, the exact prices will be known only after negotiations with the manufacturer is finalised.”

Recently, NAC Managing Director Sugat Kansakar had told the Post that if the government approves the project, the manufacturer would deliver the aircraft within seven months. “The Employees Provident Fund has pledged to finance the purchase,” he had said.

The purchase modality: full purchase or lease purchase is expected to be decided by the board, the corporation said. 

The Twin Otter made its first appearance in Nepal in 1971 as a replacement for the DC-3 Dakota, the workhorse of the then Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation.

The de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, currently marketed as the Viking Air DHC-6 Twin Otter, is a Canadian 19-passenger Short Takeoff and Landing (STOL) utility aircraft developed by de Havilland Canada and currently produced by Viking Air. In 2005, Viking purchased the Type Certificates for all of the out-of-production de Havilland aircraft, including the Twin Otter. After an extensive market analysis was conducted, it was determined that an overwhelming demand existed to bring the Twin Otter back into production, thus the Viking Series 400 Twin Otter Production Programme was announced in 2007. The first production aircraft was delivered in 2010. In Nepal, private carrier Tara Air is the first customer of the Viking plane.

NAC has said that it has enough manpower, like engineers and pilots, to fly the DHC-6 Twin Otter. The carrier’s move comes at a time when demand for air transport service has gone up sharply in remote areas.

The corporation said that it is their social obligation to fly to remote areas, although the potential of service expansion to far-flung destinations is yet to be fully tapped by private airlines.

NAC has already added six China-made aircraft-two 17-seater Y12e and two 58-seater MA60-to its fleet. The national flag carrier’s domestic fleet contains nine planes, including three vintage Twin Otters.

It has not been able to use the Y12e aircraft in remote airfields due to regulatory limits. As per the Chinese aircraft’s specifications, it can fly to airports with a maximum grade of up to 2 percent or about 1.2 degrees of slope.

During its heyday, NAC used to operate 18 aircraft-12 Twin Otters, three Avros and three Pilatus Porters—on domestic routes. Between 1972 and 1979, the Canadian International Development Agency donated seven Twin Otters to NAC.

Published: 2018-06-04 08:22:47