Forest Department Sarawak will be able to “fly” soon

File photo of the four-seater model DA42M-NG Diamond special mission aircraft ordered by the Sarawak government. Picture, courtesy of Diamond Aircraft Industries, Austria.

KUCHING, June 7: A special fixed-wing plane purchased by the Forest Department Sarawak (FDS) to provide air surveillance and to monitor illegal logging activities in the state is now undergoing technical testing by the Malaysia Aviation Commission (MAVCOM),

FDS acting director Hamden Mohammad said the four-seater DA42M-NG Diamond, purchased from Austrian firm Diamond Aircraft Industries, is a special mission aircraft and has been configured for aerial surveillance and mapping purposes.

It will be able to accommodate two technicians and two pilots on each mission.

“The plane is now undergoing testing by MAVCOM, in line with their stringent standard operating procedures (SOP). We hope we can take delivery of the plane soon,” Hamden told DayakDaily today.

He said FDS was initially scheduled to take delivery of the plane sometime this month but due to the stringent technical inspection by MAVCOM, it has now been delayed.

According to Google, the Diamond DA42-NG is a four-seater, twin-engine, propeller-driven airplane. It is Diamond’s first twin-engine design as well as the first new European twin-engine aircraft in its category to be developed in over 25 years.

In 2004, the DA42 became the first diesel-powered fixed-wing aircraft to perform a non-stop crossing of the North Atlantic.

With the acquisition of the plane, Sarawak will be the first state in the country to have its own fixed-wing plane to provide air surveillance and to monitor illegal logging activities.

The plane can fly without refuelling for nine hours, and it is so sophisticated that it can identify the species of trees below it. Thus, it is ideal for Sarawak, with its vast land mass.

The acquisition of the plane is part of FDS’s New Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) to curb illegal logging.

It is bought using the federal Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s allocation, and it will be parked under the State Forest Department and will be managed and maintained by Hornbill Skyways. — DayakDaily