The factory new Agusta AW 139 Italian manufactured aircraft belonging to Nepalese Army made a maiden flight today from Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) around 11:40 AM today marking a historical first flight of Agusta AW139 aircraft in Nepalese airspace.
A successful test flight was done after the successful re-assembly of the aircraft today from its hangar with a crew of test pilots Capt. Sergio Turcato and Brigadier General Dhanendra Bahadur Shah of VVIP flight operations of Directorate General of Army Aviation (DGAA).
A technical team of 3 Malay, 2 Portuguese led by an Italian have been working with co-ordination of DGAA to accomplish the reassembly process informed an official. They had been working for a couple of weeks at least inside the hangar of VVIP to complete the assembly process he added.
The aircraft after making maiden flight in Italy had been dismantled and dispatched into cargo with ferry ships to Kathmandu that arrived around couple of months ago and after which the reassembly was going on.
The flight today took off from Kathmandu Airport and made a local test flight around Sipaghat area and returned back to Kathmandu around 12:15 PM he added. With the successful test flight today the aircraft is expected to initiate Army helicopter services very soon. The army has already prepared its own type rated pilots and one of the foreigner pilot and engineer from the Agusta will be working for a year in Nepal for DGAA in the same aircraft.
The new AW319 has acquired a Nepali registration ‘NA-059’. Another youngest fleet of Rotary Wing before this AW319 an Airbus ‘H125’ helicopter landed TIA on 16th of August through a ferry flight and is not still in service from Mid Air Base registered as ‘NA-055’ due to lack of a part to be used in the helicopter.
This is the very first time that the AW139 is entering Nepalese Airspace but previously, Altitude Air, a private heli-charter company had bought Leonardo Helicopter/Augusta Westland Koala AW119 chopper manufactured on United States first time ever in Nepal for the demonstration flight of Augusta Westland Koala AW119 to check the performance of chopper in High Altitude at Himalaya Kingdom.
Nepalese Army Aviation currently owns 12 aircraft which includes four MI-17, two Bell 206, three Écureuils, one Lancer and one Islander and one PZL M28 Sky truck. The defense force has recently sold its two Aérospatiale AS-332L-1 Super Pumas, an advanced chopper for VIPs, to China.