Aviation history of Nepal

When did the first aircraft come?

In 1949, on a sunny-gay day, something like a bird flew past hills and clouds into Kathmandu valley and landed its faithful engines on the vast empty grass-fields of “Gauchaur”. The first ever air-craft to land in the kingdom of Nepal was the Beechcraft Bonanza. There was no fashionably elegant or commercially supplemented airport by the name of TIA at that time, but its foundation was laid on that very day. After a year, in 20 February 1950, Dakota aircraft (DC3) of Indian authority ascended from “Gauchaur”, which is written in history as the first ever flight from Kathmandu to Patna, Kolkata and Delhi. His Majesty king Tribhuvan flew past the government houses spraying colours of democracy in the country. With all the head-start progress was making, flights were initiated to connect Pokhara, Bhairahawa, Simara and Biratnagar from Kathmandu in 1952. “Gauchaur” finally lost its space in time which was thus changed to Tribhuvan airport (TIA) in June 15, 1955 and to Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in 1964. The growing body needed a department that systematically looked after the affairs concerning incoming and outgoing of flights so chronologically 1957 saw the establishment of Department of civil Aviation. Between the years of 1966 to 1989, this facility was reared, nurtured and cultivated, improving its services and infrastructure like runways, radars, hangers, air-traffic, ground-services and staff professionalism. In February 18, 1990, King Birendra inaugurated the newly built TIA complex. Private airlines started chartering domestic flights from 1992.

When was the first airport constructed?

Tribhuvan International airport that we frequently come in and out of was once plain grassland serving its purpose to grazing animals and bored out Nepali farmers. As sun-baked farmers lying in this field opened one eye towards sky in 1949, a Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft landed like a mythical creature carrying the Indian Ambassador. Since then and up-to-now, we have seen this “Gauchaur” open itself to million sojourners. The airport first hung on to the name of “Gauchaur” meaning “Cattle-grazing land”, but later was royally blessed by taking the initials of late King Tribhuvan in 1955 AD. The airport was not like an airport at that time. There were no pitched or furnished roads where the soft rubber-tires could smoothly come to rest nor radar for proper geo-locationing or a live-communication between take-off and landing. The grass-land was poured with containers of bitumen that laid foundations for 1,140m of tarred road surface in 1957. Ten years later, the length of the road was extended to 2,000m. Again, to match with the increasing demand further 1000m was created.

How many regions have been connected by flight?

Many remote as well as rural districts have been connected by flights since the inception of aviation industry. Our country, speaking as of now, still lacks on proper road network. In many places, air-travel has proven to be cheaper than road even in a small country like ours. In the eastern region places like Biratnagar, Bhadrapur, Tumlingtar, Lamidanda, Bhojpur, Lukla, Phaplu and Rumjatar have been connected by flights. Central region has Bharatpur, Janakpur and Simara as their favourable landing spots. Nepalgunj, Chaurjahari and Rukumkot welcome visitors sincerely in mid-western region. Bhairahawa and Pokhara sees faces known and unknown every day in western development region. As low and far as Dhangadhi, the pilot flies towards far-western region.

How many airlines run in Nepal?

Nepal has an array of air-lines to offer its services to all kinds of travellers. Some of them are:

1) Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC)

Established in 1958, Nepal Airlines Corporation reigned as the only agency to charter flights in-and-out from Nepal. This agency first flew domestically and later added international flights to parts of Asia and then to Europe. Its first aircraft was Douglas DC-3 Dakota, used in service from 1958. Many other planes were added such as Fong Shu Harvester AN-2 (1963-65), Pilatus Porter PC-6 (1961-98), Fokker Friendship F-27 (1966-70), Hawker Siddler HS-748 Avro (1970), Twin Otter DHC-6 (1971), Boeing 727 (1972-93), Boeing 757 (1987).

2) Yeti Airlines and Tara airlines

Yeti airline was established in 1998 AD. It is the parent company of Tara air. Together both provide the largest domestic service in Nepal. In 1998, it operated by using two De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otters and sometime later Dornier Do 228. Today it has short take-off and landing (STOF) crafts which serves to remotest part of Nepal and Bae Jetstream 41s for more substantial regions of Nepal.

3) Sita Airlines

This airliner opened its arms in the year 2003 with a single Dornier Do 228. The airlines primary base is in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Nepalgunj. They offer flights to all development regions including high altitude regions. In the year 2003, this airline added one more air-craft.

4) Simrik Airlines

This airline operated its services from Kathmandu. It flies passengers to Pokhara, Lukla, Bhairahawa, Simara and Jomsom. Moutain flights are also available for interested tourists. Fleet boasts of 2 Dornier 228 and 3 Beechcraft 1900D.

5) Saurya Airlines

This is relatively new company in the game, established in 2014. It offers, up to now, only domestic flights to Dhangadhi, Nepalgunj, Bhairahawa, Biratnagar, Bhadrapur and mountain retreas. This airline has been flying 50-seater Bombardier CRJ-200.

How hard is it geographically?

Geographically our country is hard to navigate. Once you enter the hilly belt, things start to get complex. Navigating here, takes courage and skill because conditions can drag you down which is the last situation we’d want to face in air.

How to get into aviation industry?

To get into the aviation industry, first you need to complete flight course or take a degree course from any authorised and recognized schools. These courses vary from a year to two to complete. After gaining this skill, the individual needs have to gain a pilot’s license to make fly in the respective country under the banner of an air-line.