Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) is set to buy at least four Twin Otter Aircrafts, reports The Kathmandu Post. These aircrafts will be used to travel to the remote areas of the country.
The Twin Otter is a Canadian 19-passenger STOL(Short Takeoff and Landing) utility aircraft produced by Viking Air. The aircraft’s fixed tricycle undercarriage, STOL capabilities, twin turboprop engines and high rate of climb have makes it a successful commuter passenger airliner as well as a cargo and Medevac aircraft.
Recently, there is a high demand for aircraft services in remote areas. NAC Managing Director, Sugat Ratna Kansakar said that it was a social obligation for state-owned enterprise to fly to remote areas.
Kansakar said, “Once we procure the aircraft, we will expand our network to all the airports in the country.” He also said that the NAC has enough manpower for the new operation.
NAC recently added four Chinese two 17-seater Y12e and two 58-seater MA60 to its fleet. And it is bringing in two more. However, these planes cannot fly to remote airfields due to regulatory limits. After this, NAC’s domestic fleet will have nine places.
According to the regulations on Chinese aircrafts, it can fly to airports with a maximum grade of up to 2 percent or about 1.2 degrees of slope. The US Federal Aviation Administration(FAA) allows aircraft to operate on runways with slopes of maximum grade of up to 1.2 degrees.
While most STOL airfields in Nepal have a slope of over 1.2 degrees, the runway of Tenzing-Hillary Airport at Lukla, for instance, has 11-degree slope.
Y12e aircraft has not obtained a certification from the FAA to operate on runways with slopes exceeding 1.2 degrees. So, it is only used while flying to destinations like Pokhara and Simara.
NAC once used to operate 18 aircraft — 12 Twin Otters, three Avros and three Pilatus Porters – on domestic routes.