Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) is all set to carry out a test flight of its Chinese made Harbin Y-12E aircraft to the world’s extreme airport, Lukla Airport after the end of this monsoon season.
Previously (on November 23), NAC had scheduled to carry out a test landing of its Chinese made Harbin Y12-E to Lukla Airport but the plan failed due to the lack of Instructor Pilots. NAC Engineering Dy. Director stated that, “We have all set and the instructor pilots also agree to have a test landing at Lukla Airport”.
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 an 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 almost 12-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’s 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.
After the successful test landing at Lukla Airport, the remaining Y12-E is expected to be brought to the country from China, after the test flight as stated the NAC Officials.
The Y12-E 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.
NAC has delivered two MA60 and two Y12-E, but remaining two Y12-E are still on hold of their deliveries.
While flying from Lukla to Kathmandu, the aircraft can carry 16 passengers in every weather conditions but from Kathmandu to Lukla, the load has to be reduced to 13.
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.