Drukair’s ATR42-500 started operation since yesterday after the aircraft was grounded for the second time on January 22.

This means, all domestic flights have resumed.

A total of four components were replaced in one of the engines of the aircraft when the ATR was grounded for the second time. No further maintenance is required on the components, according to airline officials.

Drukair officials said the replacement procedures were all routine and within the capability of the airline’s maintenance engineers. “It’s done according to the procedures given in the approved Aircraft Maintenance Manual published by the manufacturer,” said officials.

Drukair’s general manager with engineering and maintenance division, Thrimchong Wangdi, said that the delay was due to the time it took for the parts to arrive.

The ATR was grounded for two more days for the scheduled engine change last week. The subject core engine has been replaced and sent to Singapore for inspection and repair.

Officials said it is difficult to say if the ATR would be in uninterrupted operation hereafter, although the recurrence of the same problems was highly unlikely.

However, officials added given that the ATR was close to 15 years old and is in its aging phase, the probability of facing other glitches were relatively higher.

Thrimchong Wangdi said that the projected increased daily utilisation of the aircraft due to increased domestic sectors could accelerate the negative impact on its technical reliability.

It was also learnt that the aircraft is further scheduled to remain grounded for two more days towards the end of March to reinstall the second engine that was sent for inspection and repair.

Officials said that no maintenance is scheduled thereafter that would require the airline to ground the ATR until January/February next year when the ATR would be due for its C check, which is a detailed inspection of the aircraft by the airlines and airworthiness authorities.

Excluding the schedule engine change, the cost for the rest of the maintenance work was less than USD 10,000.

“The problems regarding the ATR that cumulated since last month has been a very unfortunate coincidence that we hope would not recur,” said Thrimchong Wangdi. “We do not release an aircraft to service unless it has passed through all the stringent release procedures as safety remains top priority for Drukair.”

Meanwhile, between December 29 last year and January 28, the grounding of the ATR has resulted in the cancellation of 20 domestic and six international flights.

Younten Tshedup