China likely to flourish in Nepal’s Aviation

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-KATHMANDU

Chinese aircraft manufacturers are again starting to make attempts to enter the aviation market. One prominent example of this is Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) order of Chinese aircraft.

The stated owned flag carrier of Nepal NAC had ordered six Chinese for its fleet last year.  All of the aircraft have reached Nepal as of April 18 2018. Nepal Airlines delayed the last deliveries of the main component of the order, the Harbin Y12e, because it doesn’t have enough qualified pilots to operate the aircraft.

According to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA), Mr. Rabindra Adhikari, these aircraft will support the national economy. “These aircraft are the symbol of cooperation between Nepal and China. I am confident that with these planes, Nepal Airlines will be able to serve the demand of general public and contribute in national economy,” he stated.

In terms of aircraft manufacturing, China has begun developing aircraft to compete with manufacturing giants Boeing and Airbus, but throughout the years China has had a turbulent history of making aircraft. Chinese aircraft have been historically plagued with performance issues that have caused numerous high-profile crashes. The Harbin Y12e has had many of the same issues since its maiden flight was made on July 14, 1982.

Political issues are the major factor for delayed deliveries of Nepal Airlines’ aircraft. This is the reason for the gap in deliveries to Nepal Airlines. Many of the initial costumers for the Y12e were leasing companies.

Recently, China has been trying to make better aircraft such as the COMAC C919. The C919 program was launched in 2008, and production of prototypes of the aircraft began in December 2011. It rolled out on 2 November 2015 and first took off on 5 May 2017. The C919 is planned to enter commercial service in 2021 with China Eastern Airlines, which will be the first airline to ever take delivery of the COMAC 919.

The C919 is designed to compete with aircraft such as the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737. Carriers might be hesitant to purchase the aircraft at first, as Airbus and Boeing produce planes that have established safety and reliability records, while the C919 hasn’t yet been tested in regular commercial services.

NAC had planned to bring Chinese pilot to operate Harbin Y-12e aircraft. Due to lack of capable pilot in Nepal, NAC has decided to hire Chinese pilot who can communicate in English but the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) will be sending an official letter declaring the rejection of the NAC’s application for flying approval for three English-speaking Chinese pilots.

Corporation Managing Director, Mr. Sugat Ratna Kansakar said after the refusal of the Chinese Pilots due to the CAAN’s criteria we are presently planning to hire the SirLankan Pilots’ who meets the required criteria to fly Harbin Y12E aircraft.

After the regular services of with the type (Harbin Y12e) are likely to start with Nepal Airlines, China aircraft manufacturers will have their first true test in the aviation industry. Nepal Airlines is expected to improve their network by using this aircraft to operate to areas where there is expected growth of passenger traffic. One region that is expected to get Y12e service is the Himalayan Nation. If ventures such as the Y12e and C919 are successful, China’s economy will see an incredible boost from aircraft sales.

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