-S. SIERRA, KATHMANDU
The very recent purchase of Nepalese Army that arrived a month back inside packages at the hanger of VVIP operations of Nepalese Army is now undergoing unpackaging and reassembling inside the hangar.
The main fuselage of the aircraft has been extracted and the landing gears have been attached to it already. The assembly work was started a couple of days ago and the process won’t take more than a week if the works go smoothly, an official from the maintenance team stated.
A technical team of 3 Malay, 2 Portuguese led by an Italian are working with co-ordination of Directorate General of Army Aviation (DGAA) to accomplish the reassembly process.
Absence of a pulley cable to lift the tail boom of the aircraft to attach it into the main fuselage is, however, delaying the assembly process. The pulley cable though has arrived in Birgunj Customs, has not been able to be acquired due to lack of staffs in the customs office because of the prevailing festive season of Nepal.
The delay won’t be longer than a couple of days as the component would be brought to Kathmandu as soon as the festive season ends according to the source. After the component arrives, the team will take another week to complete the assembly. Thereafter, a Test Pilot from Agusta will perform a test flight of the aircraft and will initiate its service in the Nepalese Sky under VVIP operations wing of DGAA.
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 already in service from Mid Air Base registered as ‘NA-055’.
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 the 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 the 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.