Gautam Buddha International Airport ready for test flight

RUPANDEHI: Gautam Buddha International Airport, the second international airport of Nepal in Bhairahawa,  is ready for a test flight. Though the concerned authority was planning to conduct a calibration flight at the airport three months ago, it could not be done due to lack of aircraft and human resources. As a result the expenses of the airport have also increased.

A calibration aircraft is generally used to inspect equipment or any other communication or navigational instrument installed at the airport to ensure that they work accurately and precisely.

The works of installing tower and electronic equipment at the runway of the airport were completed in the third week of March. Around 97 percent of the physical construction of the airport have been completed so far.

Prabin Neupane, Engineer at the airport construction project ‘ICB 2’ said that though the Aero Thai Company of Thailand, which was authorised to bring goods, had tried to bring the goods from a Thailand company, it could not bring owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why, the project office has taken initiative to bring the goods from India.

He said that the calibration aircraft and manpower would come from India if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged the Indian government for the same.

“We were busy preparing for the calibration flight, but it has stopped now due to the surge in Covid-19 cases. Our objective is to have a calibration flight by October,” said Neupane.

Airport project Chief Prabesh Adhikari said that the domestic and international workers are working tirelessly to complete the remaining works of terminal building under the ICB1. He added that the calibration flight would not be hampered even if the workers could not complete the construction of the terminal building.

Adhikari said that all the necessary equipment has already been imported from abroad except the X-ray machine. The works to install lights, control tower, conveyor belt machine, baggage handling system have also been completed.

“The arrival of technicians has been delayed due to Covid-19 pandemic. There will be breakthrough as soon as the situation comes into normalcy,” he said, adding,”The construction of customs and cargo buildings are also in the final stage of completion.

The North West Civil Aviation Company of China had taken the responsibility to upgrade the Gautam Buddha Airport, constructed in 1966 with the assistance of the Indian government, as an international airport.

The company was awarded the contract to build the airport at a cost of Rs 6 billion.

Nepal government and Asia Development Bank had signed an agreement to build the airport on May 25, 2010.

Of the total cost, ADB has provided 40.5 per cent loan and 18 per cent grant to the government for the construction of the airport.

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