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21 Sep, 2013

Chinese MA60 aircraft set to fly Nepalese skies


KATHMANDU, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) — Chinese-made MA60 aircraft is all set to enter Nepali skies after the government of Nepal decided to issue the type certificate to it for the first time. The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) last Tuesday formally decided to award the type certificate to Chinese MA60 aircraft.

A type certificate is a regulating body’s approval, given to a manufacturing design that cannot be changed. It reflects a determination made by the regulating body that the aircraft is manufactured according to an approved design, and that the design ensures compliance with airworthiness requirements.

“We will officially issue the certificate to the Chinese aircraft after Dashain,” CAAN Director General Ratish Chandra Lal Suman told Xinhua. Nepal’s major fiesta Dashain is just a month way.

The CAAN reached the decision to issue the certificate following the Type Certification Board submitted its report to Nepal’s aviation regulating body earlier this week.

The board led by former CAAN deputy director general Shambu Adhikari had in its report recommended that Modern Ark 60 aircraft was fit for Nepali skies with “its reliable technical and other capabilities.”

The report also said the aircraft has been made keeping the checklist, which the planemaker had submitted to CAAN earlier, intact. The board, assigned to verify the design and manufacturing standards of the jet, prepared its report following the two-week long visit to China.

“The board has verified that MA60 is designed in line with the specifications of the Chinese Civil Aviation Regulations 25 (CCAR- 25) of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, and is compatible to Part 25 of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’ s (FAA) Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR),” Madan Kharel, managing director at Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC), told Xinhua.

AVIC International Holding, the maker of MA60 planes, had applied for the type certificate earlier in March this year. However, the CAAN had not responded to the applicant stating that the issuance of type certificate was a “serious job” and “needed rigorous exercises.”

A high level technical team from NAC, following its inspection visit to China, had reported that the airplanes were fit for Nepali skies previously. However, the process landed in controversy with the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), Nepal’s anti-graft body, suspected alleged irregularities in the process.

As per a commercial agreement signed between NAC and AVIC International Holding on Nov. 29, 2012, the Chinese side has given a five-year grace period for loan and interest repayment. The provision is expected to enable NAC to enjoy earnings for at least five years.

A high level team from CAAN left for China on Aug. 17 to inspect the technical aspects of two MA60 aircrafts that Nepal is preparing to purchase. The CAAN’s hasty preparation to leave for China came in response to the request of the officials from Export- Import (EXIM) Bank of China to finalize all paper and procedural works including issuance of the type certificate by Dec. 31.

The Chinese bank has pledged 35 million U.S. dollars to Nepal government for the purchase of four Chinese aircraft.

Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation of Nepal sources said once the CAAN issues type certificate, the government will initiate final homeworks to purchase aircraft from the northern neighbor.

China has pledged providing a 19-seater Harbin Y-12e and a 58- seater MA60 turboprop in grant while the Nepali government has also planned to purchase four other aircraft, three Harbin Y-12e and a MA60, by taking soft loans from the Chinese EXIM Bank.

On Aug. 7, 2011, NAC had written to the Finance Ministry, requesting it to purchase eight aircraft with foreign grants. In November 2011, the ministry requested China to provide the aircraft either under grant or soft loans. The Chinese side responded positively, expressing their readiness to provide some aircraft under grant and some under soft loans.