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Nepal Airlines issues RFP for three STOL aircraft

Nepal Airlines (RA, Kathmandu) has issued a request for proposal (RFP) for three short take-off and landing (STOL) aircraft. The RFP, formally titled NAC-PURCHASE/01/STOL/80-8, was issued on October 22, 2023, and invites bids from STOL aircraft manufacturers wishing to participate in a one-stage, two-envelope bidding process.

The state-owned airline is looking for brand new aircraft with zero flight hours and no more than 25 hours of flight time for test flights. The RFP documentation specifies a minimum engine capacity of 620 axle horsepower that can provide at least 4,000 hours of flight before any mandatory overhaul. The aircraft must be capable of operating on runways of 1,500 feet or less, be FAA and EASA approved, and come with a fully integrated digital avionics package (including an FDR, a CVR, a 406 MHz ELT with latitude and longitude transmission, HF radio and a other ADF radio).

Each aircraft must be able to carry a minimum of 18 passengers plus one cabin crew. All passenger seats must be able to be removed/folded and refitted when necessary. Carrying capacity should also be facilitated. Aircraft types with a true airspeed of less than 180 KTAS will be disqualified, as will any aircraft type not acceptable to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN).

“The aircraft must be delivered in a fully airworthy condition and must have met all applicable airworthiness directives, mandatory service bulletins/amendments published and effective on the date of delivery, requiring compliance within 12 months from the date of delivery,” the RFP says. The airline also requires the aircraft to have a minimum one-year (or 1,200 flight hours) warranty for the airframe and engines and a minimum three-year warranty for the avionics package.

The tenderer must submit certain financial and production information, including three years of audited balance sheets and profit and loss statements, and indicate their minimum average annual turnover for the past three years. In addition, the tenderer must prove that they have manufactured STOL aircraft in the past ten years. The tendered aircraft type must also have been in production for at least ten years, and the manufacturer must have sold at least 75 of them.

Nepal Airlines buys aircraft because lessors are generally unwilling to place aircraft on the market. Nepal’s Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Sudan Kiranti, has told Kathmandu-based businesses that he wants to acquire up to ten aircraft for Nepal Airlines over the next twelve months. The airline now operates only six aircraft – two A320-200, two A330-200 and two DHC-6-300. The minister argues that the small fleet hampers the airline’s ability to serve existing passenger demand effectively and is a barrier to growth and profitability. “Without this, tourists will not come,” he said. “There is no alternative but to add aircraft to the airline.”

Potential suppliers of the three STOL aircraft must submit two separate sealed envelopes, one containing the technical bid and the other the financial bid. A non-refundable fee of USD100 must accompany the submission and must be received at the Kathmandu offices of Nepal Airlines by 1200L (0800Z) on 5 December 2023.

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