Nepal Airlines has successfully conducted its test flight to Lukla Airport for the first time this morning at approximately 0136 UTC time with its Chinese manufactured Harbin Y-12E ‘9N-AKU’ STOL aircraft. An another test flight that took off from Kathmandu yesterday failed to land Lukla due to the adverse weather and imposed diversion to the Ramechhap Airport, which was planned into the action after the four years of its introduction to NAC fleet.
The successful test flight was conducted under command of Capt. Noori Sherpa and Capt. Udhab Ghimire. Other members on board were Vishal Paudel, Prashanna Rana, Raj Rauniyar, Mahesh Raj Pandey and Prashant Oli and also representatives from CAAN Binaya Giri and Lukla AFIS Chief Yogendra Kunwar.
Previously On November 23, 2017, 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 Pilot.
Nepal Airlines also plans to extend its service to other STOL destinations with its fleet of four Y-12E aircrafts. After the successful test flight in Lukla, the officials are positive on conducting subsequent test flights to Simikit, Dolpa, Rara and Jumla.
The 17-seater Y12e arrived in Kathmandu in 2014 and was intended to serve remote mountain airfields like Lukla, Jomsom, Manang, Simikot, Rara, Jumla and Dolpa. But its regulatory limit meant that it could only fly to airports with a maximum grade of up to 2 percent or about 1.2 degrees of slope.
As a result, the Y12e was only operated on the Pokhara and Simara sectors, pending the issuance of a certificate by the manufacturer clearing it to serve airports with a slope of more than 2 degrees.
The runway at Lukla’s Tenzing-Hillary Airport has an 11-degree slope. Most of the short take-off and landing (STOL) airfields in Nepal including Lukla in Khumbu are above the regulatory limit.