The delivery of Chinese carrier Okay Airways’ first Xian Aircraft MA60 turboprop is being delayed because the manufacturer is waiting on approval from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

This is according to Okay Airways chairman and president Liu Jieyin, who says the carrier was originally supposed to receive its first MA60 at the end of February but now it is likely to come in the middle or end of this year.

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The delay is “because of the formalities” involving the CAAC which “needs to give the factory [Xian Aircraft] a licence and the CAAC still needs to check the factory and the aircraft”, says Liu.

He says tomorrow the director general or deputy director general of the CAAC’s flight standards department is due to visit Xian Aircraft. The company is located in Yanliang, outside of Xian.

“Going through all the formalities is not easy,” adds Liu.

Currently no airlines in China operate the MA60 even though it is a Chinese-built aircraft, but some Chinese carriers did operate the aircraft about six years ago.

Okay Airways last July signed a lease deal for 10 MA60s and some are to be passenger aircraft and some freighters. The deal was with AVIC I International Leasing - the leasing arm of China Aviation Industry Corp I (AVIC I), which makes the MA60 through subsidiary Xian Aircraft.

The airline’s first MA60, a passenger aircraft, is already built and painted in its livery, confirms Liu.

He says the airline plans to have MA60s stationed in four secondary cities in eastern China including Harbin, Shenyang and Tianjin and use these on short-haul routes to cities nearby.

Okay was earlier hoping to receive five MA60s this year but it will be fewer than that because the airline, like others in China, has experienced problems securing pilots, says Liu.

He says: “We sent some students to Canada for [ab initio] pilot training but the training centre there has a shortage of teachers and aircraft so the training is delayed.”

But in 2009 the airline hopes to add MA60s quickly, he adds.

Initially it will only operate MA60s as passenger aircraft but two years from now it plans to start taking delivery of MA60s in freighter configuration, says Liu.

Okay Airways is primarily a passenger carrier with four Boeing 737-800s and one 737-500 passenger aircraft, according to Flight’s ACAS database.

Liu says the company will be receiving two more 737-800s at the end of this year on lease from AWAS.

He also says at the end of this year it hopes to add one or two more 737 freighters. Currently it has three 737-300Fs and operates these in China for its customer Fedex.

The airline also has two Chinese-built Shaanxi Y8 freighters that it uses “for special scientific missions” including aerial photography, says Liu.

It leases the Y8s from an undisclosed company and is unlikely to add more because the “Y8 has a lot of problems”, says Liu, who fails to elaborate.

Source:'s sister premium news site Air Transport Intelligence news