Chinese aircraft becoming troublesome for national flag carrier

National flag carrier Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) is facing pilot shortage to fly the Chinese manufactured Harbin Y 12-e aircraft. To fly 4 of such aircraft (2 procured recently), NAC currently has just one capable captain.

The corporation had five captains to operate the aircraft just a few months ago but currently only one Captain Nipendra Bhattarai is available to perform daily operation along with other 4 co-pilots. While other pilots like Senior Captain Sanjay Bade Shrestha is on leave, Captain Uddhav Ghimire is not currently authorized to fly as his flying license has not been updated, instructor pilot Ang Nuri Sherpa is now in leave America and Captain Anishman Shakya, has resigned.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) rule, there must be altogether of 5 pilot and co-pilot and 8 pilots and co-pilots to fly 2 and 4 small aircraft respectively. NAC has other co-pilots namely Liberty Bhandari, Srijana Raut, Prachanda Khadka, Rakesh Kumar Kaphle, Bijaya Awale, Rabin KC and Mahesh Raj Pandey who are able to fly the Harbin Y-12E.

But due to failure in Pilot Proficiency Check of Prachanda Khadka and Mahesh Raj Pandey they cannot fly the plane while other doesn’t have adequate flying hours.

NAC recently brought 2 Harbin Y-12e from China as of agreement made some 5 years ago. Initially 2 Y-12E were brought later one aircraft was down for maintenance and had been put away since then. Ang Nuri Sherpa was appointed to be Instructor pilot a year ago but within the year no pilot were produced. Thus new aircraft are also on verge of being confined in airport for lack of efficient pilots.

However pilot shortage is not only problem for the corporation but lack of aircraft parts and its maintenance has been headache for the corporation.

On the other hand NAC said that 2 Chinese pilots and an instructor pilot will be brought to make use of all aircraft. They also have called around 14 people for interview for captains’ position. They also added that contract has been done with Chinese manufacturer to bring parts and have maintenance service in the country. With 2 A330 wide-body to be received shortly, NAC is also planning to procure 4 Viking DHC-6-400 Twin Otter aircraft and 2 narrow body jetliner.

However, it is up to the management strategy of NAC on how they will prepare from now on to balance the number of aircraft and required crews to operate it.

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