Friday, May 30, 2014

Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority seeks clarification for delay in MA60 operation

KATHMANDU: The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has directed the concerned government bodies to expedite the process of putting Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC)’s new China-made aircraft into operation.

The anti-corruption watchdog had today invited officials of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA), Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) and NAC to its office to discuss the reasons behind the delay in commercial operation of MA60, an aircraft manufactured by China-based Avic International Holding.

Joint Secretary Ranjan Krishna Aryal had represented MoCTCA during the meeting, while two CAAN officials, including Deputy Director General Sanjiv Gautam, had participated in the talks. NAC Managing Director Madan Kharel also took part in the meeting.

“The CIAA sought the reason behind the delay in beginning of commercial operation of the aircraft and issued verbal instruction to expedite the process,” an official who took part in the meeting told The Himalayan Times.

NAC had imported the 58-seater MA60 on April 27 to bolster its domestic operations.

Soon after its arrival, NAC had caused quite a stir by announcing a plan to reduce domestic air fare by as much as 50 percent. But after creating that hype, the airline company has not been able to do much, and is still making rounds of CAAN, the civil aviation sector regulator, to upgrade Air Operator Certificate, and obtain air worthiness certificate and radio mobile license.

Some of the reasons for the delay in commercial operation of the aircraft are NAC’s inability to get English-speaking instructor pilots and an engineer with a type rating for maintaining the MA60.

As per the civil aviation rules, NAC has to get engineers who are certified in maintaining MA60. These engineers will then have to train Nepali engineers for up to six months.

NAC also has to get instructor pilots with Level 4 English proficiency, who will have to accompany Nepali pilots for up to 100 hours of flight. Earlier, the Chinese company, which had sold the aircraft to NAC, had been unable to find English-speaking instructor pilots.

“However, the situation is different now. We recently submitted names of an engineer and two instructor pilots who meet the criteria set by CAAN. Despite this, we have not been allowed to use the aircraft for commercial purpose,” NAC Spokesperson Ram Hari Sharma said.

He further said: “We have been told that CAAN is communicating with the Chinese civil aviation regulatory body. But we have not been told what these discussions are about. We want CAAN to give us the exact reasons for this delay as we have invested so much in bringing this aircraft.”


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