Nepal Airlines – A National Flag Carrier

National Flag Carrier – Nepal Airlines

Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) initially known as Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation (RNAC) was founded on 1st of July, 1958. Nepal Airlines is solely owned by Government of Nepal whose hub is Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA). The ground handling at TIA is carried out by Nepal Airlines.

Nepal Airlines had begun its commercial operation with one Douglas DC-3 Dakota having seating capacity up to 28 to Pokhara, Biratnagar and Simara as domestic service whereas Patna, Calcutta and Delhi of India as International Service.

NAC operated more than 8 different kinds of aircraft at past. Some of them are still in service. Currently, NAC operates 5 different types of aircraft. Among them, two are A320’s , two are B757’s , one is DHC-6 Twinotter , one is Xian MA-60 and one is Harbin Y-12e.

If we turn the pages of history of NAC, we can find the corporation passed through several sorts of scandal.

Besides many remote and urban places of Nepal, Nepal Airlines has been serving international flights to 5 international destinations,



Kuala Lumpur



The safety record and management of NAC is quiet miserable and poor as a result European Union has banned Nepal Airlines from flying into sky of Europe. Consequently, the corporation is struggling hard for the removal of its name from European blacklist. In near future, NAC has hoped to cover global market in aviation field with the addition of Jets every year and earning profits. NAC can play vital role for restructuring and improvement of financial status of nation.

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Historical profile of aircraft that were operated by NAC

1) Douglas DC-3 Dakota

Douglas DC-3 Dakota, manufactured in USA, was the first aircraft that joined the fleet of Nepal Airlines in 1958 . It’s occupancy was 28 and suitable to terrain of Nepal. NAC had 8 DC-3’s Dakota in its fleet for rendering services to passengers. With the passage of time, all DC-3’s had been phased out and some of them had crashed.

Nepal Airlines DC-3

  Photo: RNAC Douglas DC-3 Dakota with Reg 9N-AAE; Credit:ATDB

2) Fongshu Harvester AN-2

Fongshu Harvester AN-2 was Chinese aircraft possessing seating capacity up to 12. AN-2 was single engine aircraft that joined the fleet of NA in 1963 and phased out till 1965. There were 2 AN-2 operated by NAC.

Nepal Airlines 9N-AAK AN-2

Photo: RNAC Douglas DC-3 Dakota with Reg 9N-AAE; Credit:ATDB

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3) Pilatus Porter PC-6

Pilatus Porter PC-6 , a swiss- manufactured single engine aircraft with seating capacity upto 6 , attached to the fleet of NAC in 1961. Both AN-2 and PC-6 were STOL (Short Take Off and Landing ) aircraft which were fully concentrated for service to remote mountainous region where runway length was very short. PC-6 remained in service till 1998. There were 3 PC-6 operated by NAC.

9N-AAF Nepal Airlines Pilatus Porter

Photo: RNAC Pilatus Porter PC-6 with Reg 9N-AAF; Credit:

4) Fokker Friendship F-27

Twin engine turboprop Fokker Friendship F-27 had seating capacity up to 44. It was manufactured in Netherlands. F-27 entered to the service in 1966 and detached from service in 1970. Despite the short period of time in service, F-27 became one of the popular aircraft to serve international flights.

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5) Hawker Siddley HS-748 Avro

British manufactured twin engine Hawker Siddley HS-748 Avro joined the fleet of NAC in 1970. HS-748 seated 44 persons. The first mountain flight was commenced by HS-748 Avro. It was widely used for domestic and international flights.

Nepal Airlines 9N-AAU Hawker Siddley Hs- 748 Avro

Photo: RNAC HS-748 Avro with Reg 9N-AAU; Credit: ATDB

6) Boeing 727

American manufactured Boeing 727, aircraft equipped with jet engines, joined the fleet of NAC in 1972. The jet had seating capacity up to 123 passengers. Due to sole international airport of Nepal, it was used for international flights only. B727 served till 1993. NAC had two B727 in its fleet.

Nepal AIrlines Boeing 727 9N-ABN

Photo: RNAC Boeing 727 with Reg 9N-ABN; Credit: ATDB

7) Boeing 767

American manufactured B767-300 leased from Lauda Air Italy in 2001 was operated for very short period of time. It seated up to 251. Now, the aircraft is being operated by Ryan Air.

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 Present Fleet Of Aircraft

1) Airbus 320

This year Nepal Airlines received its two brand new A320-200 SL jets for serving international destinations. NAC received one A320 (9N-AKW) on Feb 8, 2015 and next one (9N-AKX) on May 2, 2015 from Airbus Company, largest European Aircraft Manufacturer Company. Both Jets have seating capacity upto 158 passengers.

Nepal Airlines A320 AviationNepal

Photo: Airbus A320 Rotating from TIA. Credit: Rohan Shrestha

2) Boeing 757

Boeing 757-200 was manufactured by largest American Aircraft Manufacturer, Boeing Company. NAC had received its first B757 (9N-ACA) on Sep 9, 1987 whereas next one (9N-ACB) on Sep 15, 1988. Its seating capacity is 200. Both aircraft are aged but still in service. NAC has planned to phase out both B757.

Boeing 757 Nepal Airlines AviationNepal 9N-ACA

Photo: Nepal Airlines Boeing 757 Reg No 9N-ACA at TIA, Kathmandu Nepal

3) DHC-6 Twinotter

De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twinotter is the aircraft that joined the fleet of NAC in 1971 and still in service. It seated upto 19 persons and possess twin engine. Twinotter is STOL aircraft which suits the terrain of Nepal. NAC had bought several Twinotters but now only one is in service.

4) Xian MA-60

Xian Company of China manufactured Model Ark MA-60 which has seating capacity up to 58. MA-60 entered the service on April 27, 2014. Currently, NAC has one MA-60 and one is in order phase.

Xian MA-60 Nepal Airlines at Nepalgunj Airport

Photo: Xian MA-60 Nepal Airlines at Nepalgunj Airport

5) Harbin Y-12e

Harbin Y-12e also chinese manufactured aircraft having seating capacity upto 18 joined the fleet of NAC on Nov 3, 2015. It’s STOL aircraft that can be operated to remote areas of Nepal having short runway length. At present, NAC has one Y-12e and 3 are in order phase.

Since, from the establishment of Nepal Airlines, NAC has passed through several tragic incidents that has arouse question upon the safety records of it. Around 126 people have been killed till last aircrash of Nepal Airlines. There are several weak point and hindrances inside NAC and the nation free regulatory organ CAAN due to which air crashes are in increasing trend. Failure to maintain ICAO standard safety records are weak point of almost every airlines of Nepal. Every year aviation of Nepal passes through such tragic air crashes.

9N-AKS Y-12 Nepal Airlines AviationNepal

Photo: 9N-AKS Y-12 Nepal Airlines

Chronology of Air Crash Of Nepal Airlines

Chronology refers to date wise representation of events or somethings. Chronological air crash faced by Nepal Airlines are listed below:-

1) Nov 5, 1960  Nepal Airlines Douglas C-47A-DK , a 28 seater plane with registration 9N-AAD caught fire after it crashed while taking off from Bhairawa Airport, Nepal. Unfortunatley, all four crew members onboard the flight passed away. Luckily, there weren’t any passengers in flight.

2) August 1, 1962  Two years after the crash of first C-47A-DK, another DC-47A-DK , with registration 9N-AAH carrying six passengers and four crew members crashed near Tulachan Dhuri. It had been reported that aircraft lost its radar contact while flying from Kathmandu to New Delhi. After 8 days of crash, debris of aircraft was located on the top of hill at 11,200 feet.

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3) July 12, 1969  12th July, 1969 the day when Douglas DC-3 Dakota, a 28 seater plane, with registration 9N-AAP carrying four crew members and 31 passengers crashed at 7,300 feet hill of Hetauda, Makwanpur. No survivors were reported. Pilot was flying into Instrument Meterological Condition (IMC) at 7,300 feet so aircraft get collided with tree.

4) January 25, 1970  Nepal Airlines Fokker Friendship F-27, a 44 seater plane, with registration 9N-AAR crashed on short of the runway of Delhi Palam Airport due to extreme thunderstorm and downdraft. Among 5 crew members and 18 passengers, only one crew member was killed. The aircraft was enroute from Kathmandu to Delhi.

5) October 15, 1973  After the four air crashes of Nepal Airlines, DeHavilland Canada DHC-6 300 series Twinotter, with registration 9N-ABG crashed at Lukla Airport. All 3 crew members and 3 passengers onboard were safe but the aircraft wasn’t able to lift off again.

6) December 22, 1984  Nepal Airlines DHC-6 300 series Twinotter with registration 9N-ABH crashed near Bhojpur, Nepal. It was reported that plane was carrying 20 passengers and 3 crew members. Among 20 passengers, 12 passengers and all 3 crew members onboard were killed. Bad weather and pilot error have been regarded as the cause behind the crash.

7) June 9, 1991  After the mishap of three twinotters, another DHC-6 300 series twinotter, with registration 9N-ABA carrying 3 crew members and 14 passengers crashed while attempting to land at Lukla Airport. The aircraft was enroute from Kathmandu to Lukla. Improper approach and low visibility have been regarded as cause behind the crash. All the people onboard the flight passed away.

8) July 5, 1992  Nepal Airlines DHC-6 300 series Twinotter possessing registration 9N-ABB struck the fence of airport while taking off from Jumla Airport to Surkhet. The aircraft ran off the runway due to lost of directional control. There were no passengers onboard the flight. But three crew members onboard were injured. Later on, In 2014, same aircraft enroute to Jumla crashed on the hill.

9) January 17, 1995  Again DHC-6 300 series Twinotter with registration 9N-ABI carrying 21 passengers and 3 crew members struck the fence of airport and halted into the field while trying to rotate for takeoff from TIA. The aircraft was enroute to Rumjatar. One crew member and one passenger passed away.

10) April 25, 1996 Nepal Airlines HS 748 series 2B, a 44 seater plane, with registration 9N-ABR overshooted the grassy runway while touching down at Meghauli Airport. All 4 crew members and 27 passengers were safe but the nose section of aircraft was damaged. The runway had become slippery due to rain so touchdown become inappropriate.

11) July 27, 2000  Nepal Airlines DHC-6 300 series Twinotter with registration 9N-ABP crashed due to collision with tree at 4,300 feet JarayaKhali hill of Churiya mountain range and caught fire. All the 3 crew members and 22 passengers were killed. The flight was from Bajhang to Dhangadi.

12) April 19, 2010 Nepal Airlines DHC-6 300 Twinotter with registration 9N-ABX touched down with nose gear first at Kangel Danda Airport of Phaplu when the aircraft couldn’t land at Phaplu Airport and chose Kangel Danda as alternate airport. The nose section of aircraft was damaged but noone was hurt. The aircraft was flying from Kathmandu.

13) May 16, 2013 Nepal Airlines DHC-6 300 series Twinotter with registration 9N-ABO enroute from Pokhara to Jomson veered to left of the runway and plunged into bank of Kaligandaki river. All three crew member were injured severely along with 4 passengers whereas rest of 15 passengers were safe. The aircraft was completely damaged.

14) February 16, 2014 Recent crash of Nepal Airlines DHC-6 300 series Twinotter with registration 9N-ABB on the hill enroute from Pokhara to Jumla. All the crew members and passengers were killed. According to investigation report, the poor decision made by Captain and bad weather has been regarded as the cause of crash. This tragic incident shook the whole nation.

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Political Interference and instability inside NAC has led to bear loss instead of earning profit. In order to march on the way of success and prosperity, NAC had announced global tender inviting interested and capable foreign company to handle management of NAC. Till now, two foreign companies, German flag carrier Lufthansa Airlines assistant company Lufthansa Consulting Company and largest European Aircraft Manufacturer, Airbus Company have proposed NAC to handle its management with full dedication and sincerity along with some charges.

It has been reported that if the responsibility of management is handed to Airbus then, it would manage two departments i.e Operation and Engineering departments of the corporation for certain years whereas if it is handed to Lufthansa Consulting , it would handle overall management in three different phase for 4 years. Within first phase, four narrow body jets will be added to NAC’s fleet for which NAC needs to pay 2,15,000 euros as well as provide 2% of total profit that NAC will earn in 2015 and 2016. And later management will be handed back to the corporation.

Both Airbus and Lufthansa Consulting Company are capable of handling NAC according to their own plans and strategies. Let’s see whom will be chosen for its speedy prosperity.

Recently, NAC has decided to serve alcoholic beverages to the passengers traveling on Delhi, Hongkong and Bangkok flights except passengers on board Doha and Kulalumpur flights. There won’t be any amendment on the fare of flight.

Because of two major earthquakes, the flow of passengers has tremendously decreased. For the attraction, NAC intended to serve alcoholic drinks to provide pleasure to passengers traveling by it.


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