Chinese Aircraft, Harbin Y12e to have a test flight to Lukla
Kathmandu – 09 November 2016
On November 23, Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) has scheduled to carry out a test flight of its Chinese made Harbin Y12e to Lukla Airport which was gifted by China two years earlier.
The 17-seater Y12e arrived in Kathmandu in 2014 and was proposed to serve distant mountain airfields like Lukla, Jomsom, Manang, Simikot, Rara, Jumla and Dolpa. But the regulatory limit provided by its manufacturer could only permit to fly to airports with a utmost grade of up to 2 percent or about 1.2 degrees of slope. So, the Y12e was only operated on the Pokhara and Simara sectors which barred the issue of a certificate by its manufacturer that it could serve in airports with a slope more than 2 degrees.The runway of Lukla’s Tenzing Hillary Airport has a 11-degree slope and most of the airfields which require Short Take Off and Landing (STOL) in Nepal which includes Lukla too are above the regulatory limit of the aircrafts brought to the country.
The runway of Lukla’s Tenzing Hillary Airport has a 11-degree slope and most of the airfields which require Short Take Off and Landing (STOL) in Nepal which includes Lukla too are above the regulatory limit of the aircraft brought to the country.
The aircraft manufacturer has to issue a gradient certificate after the test flight according to Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN). According to a statement by a CAAN official, on the respective airfield, the manufacturer will then develop a procedural design of the aircraft. CAAN will then acknowledge the technical design permitting the aircraft of that type to fly. Although the Harbin Yunshuji Y12-II has been described as the best aircraft to serve STOL airfields and had made thousands of flights all over Nepal, austere enforcement of latest regulations by CAAN to ensure safety has prohibited the Y12e from flying to mountain airstrips.
The three Y12e which are still to be brought to the country for flying from China, will be brought on after the test flight as stated in the Kathmandu Post which also states that it is planned to bring in one seater MA60 and one Y12e by December and the remaining other two Y12e will be included in the Nepal Airlines fleet after the analysis of its performance. No issues are encountered except a load restraint problem for MA60.
The Y12e flies in very cold weather and can handle the fall and rise of temperature and altitude according to a report submitted to Tourism Ministry last year but the aircraft, one MA60 and three Y12e, are still on hold of their deliveries because NAC faced many problems also including load restriction.
While flying from Lukla to Kathmandu, the aircraft can carry 16 passengers in every weather conditions but from Kathmandu to Lukla, the load had to be reduced to 13 due to load problem.
The Y12e is totally inappropriate for the Pokhara-Manang sector, according to the report. The permissible cabin load is seven passengers at 0 degrees, two passengers at 10 degrees, one passenger at 12 degrees and zero passengers at 14 degrees Celsius respectively.
The aircraft can bear 12 passengers in all-weather conditions from Biratnagar to Taplejung. Likewise, on the Jomsom-Pokhara route, it can take off with 16 passengers in all-weather conditions; but on the return flight, the passenger load has to be reduced to 14, the report said.
According to Tourism Ministry officials, NAC has been bound for bringing the residual aircraft and fly them on selected routes where they can perform well.
Last October, the Tourism Ministry had directed NAC to recommence the process of taking delivery of the four planes bearing in mind pertinent issues that require to be addressed to harvest the maximum benefit while flying these aircraft in Nepali skies. The manufacturer completed assembling the three Y12e for Nepal in early 2015. The aircraft, bearing NAC livery and Nepali registration numbers, have been sitting in the factory hangar since then. The aircraft are being bought with a soft loan of Rs3.72 billion provided by China’s EXIM Bank in which China has provided one MA60 and one Y12e worth Rs2.94 billion as offerings.