Drukair’s ATR 42-500 resumes its commercial flights from today after the aircraft was grounded since December 29.

Following the maintenance of the aircraft and a proving flight conducted yesterday, airline officials said that the ATR was ready to resume its operations.

The ATR was grounded following a technical glitch in one of the engines. An inspection of the aircraft was conducted after the inter turbine temperature (ITT) in one of the engines was found to be higher than the other engine.

Drukair has sent one of the engines for a thorough maintenance at the engine shop in Singapore. Presently, the aircraft is functioning on engine number two and a spare engine.

Drukair chief executive officer (CEO), Tandi Wangchuk, said that once the engine at Singapore is completely repaired and maintained, the ATR would then fly to Singapore and replace engine number two. The ATR would fly to Singapore towards the last week of the month.

Although the temperature of one of the engine was found to be within the limit, officials said that in case of an engine failure, the other engine had to provide the required boost.

The CEO said that given the difficult terrain the pilots were not comfortable and didn’t wish to take the chance.

A comprehensive inspection of the aircraft was conducted that included a borescope (visual inspection of aircraft engines where the area to be inspected is inaccessible by other means) inspection of engine number two.

The CEO said that the maintenance of the aircraft as mandated by the manufacturer and approved by the Bhutan Civil Aviation Authority were all performed timely. “The last one was executed in January last year.”

Drukair has requested the government to help the airlines procure a new ATR. The airline has proposed the government to finance about 70 percent of the total cost.

Meanwhile, until January 4, a total of 12 flights (Paro-Bumthang-Paro) and six flights (Paro-Yonphula-Paro) were cancelled following the grounding of the aircraft. Of the total six Paro-Yonphula-Paro flights, four flights were scheduled via Gelephu.

Commuters who wished to cancel their domestic bookings were refunded entirely by the airlines.

Younten Tshedup | Trashigang