ATR 42-500 Aircraft
ATR 42-500 Aircraft 4 October, 2011 – Officials from aircraft manufacturer ATR and the regional aviation safety agency COSCAP will be in the country to test and determine whether Drukair’s ATR aircraft can safely operate domestically, later this month.
The national airline’s ATR 42-500, purchased earlier this year by the national airline for short haul and domestic flights, did not get an automatic clearance from civil aviation to operate domestically.
Citing performance concerns, given the high altitude and shorter runway lengths of Batpalathang, Bumthang, and Yonphula, Trashigang, airstrips, civil aviation chose to bring in COSCAP before making a decision. Runway length an aircraft requires to take off and land increases with altitude.
Civil aviation director general, Phala Dorji, said the authority requires that the ATR perform within the safety threshold of both runways. This means the ATR will have to take off and land, not using the full length of either runway.
Drukair CEO Tandin Jamso said the aircraft manufacturer has looked at information on Yonphula and Batpalathang, and stated that the ATR 42-500 will be able to perform on either airstrip but with load penalties. He said that initial calculations show that the 48-seater aircraft will be able to carry 28 passengers to Yonphula, and bring back 36 passengers. The aircraft will be able to fly 27 passengers to Batpalathang. But he pointed out that these numbers are calculated under “ideal conditions”, referring to weather and wind conditions.
Drukair has invited ATR officials to perform the first test flight to Yonphula, which will take place after the royal wedding, said Tandin Jamso. He said that manufacturer ATR will have to “validate” its findings on the aircraft’s domestic performance in Bhutan.
On what strategy Drukair would follow, if civil aviation is not satisfied by the ATR’s performance, Tandin Jamso said that the airline would have to “wait and see”.