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Nepal team to visit China to buy aircraft

Kathmandu, Dec 28 - A team from the Nepali Civil Aviation Authority is scheduled to leave for China Sunday for the purchase of China-made MA60 aircraft, officials said Friday.

The team of three is due to sign two agreements, one on technical cooperation and the other on airworthiness with their Chinese partners, reported Xinhua.

Earlier, China had pledged to provide Nepal with a 19-seater Harbin Y-12e and an MA60 turboprop in grant. But the Nepali government also plans to purchase four other aircraft, three Harbin Y-12e and an MA60, by taking soft loans from the Export-Import Bank of China.

"The agreement on bilateral technical cooperation includes maintenance, flight operations and spare parts, among other areas of cooperation," said Nepali Civil Aviation Authority Director General Tri Ratna Manandhar.

"The agreements are expected to facilitate the reciprocal airworthiness certification of civil aeronautical products imported and exported between the two countries. The airworthiness agreement aims to improve bilateral cooperation to ensure continuous safe operation of the aircraft. It will also resolve airworthiness issues during the aircraft utilization process," the Kathmandu Post quoted him as saying.

Recently, the Nepali Ministry of Finance had formally sent a letter to the Chinese bank requesting soft loans for the purchase of the Chinese aircraft for the Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC), he added.

After receiving the Chinese bank's response, the government will form a loan negotiation team to finalize the terms of negotiation and ascertain the actual amount required to fund the aircraft purchase.

If things go as planned, NAC will receive the first delivery of the two aircraft in grant within two months after the loan agreement, according to NAC officials.

Rest of the deliveries are expected within five months after the first delivery, Manandhar said. (IANS)