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Although the airstrip at Paro airport became operational as far back as 1968, it was only in march 1981 that Druk Air, the national flag carrier, was first established. Druk Air commenced Commercial Air Transport services in 1983 with two 18 – seater Dornier aircraft.
In the same year, a unit of the airline was set up to look after civil aviation matters, which later became the Department of Civil Aviation in january 1986.
Druk Air's twin turbo prop Dronier 228-200 - january 1983
Increasing traffic volume and poor operational reliability soon however, necessitated the replacement of Dornier by a large capacity jet aircraft. The BAe146 -100 series with four engines was considered the best option available then for operation into our mountainous terrains. Subsequently, the first of the two BAe 146’s was inducted in the late 1980’s.
In keeping with theinternational requirement for the establishment of an independent aviation safety authority, the Department of Civil Aviation was established in January 1986, as a government agency responsible for the promotion, planning and safety regulation of civil aviation. It started with only a hand full of people with very limited knowledge and exposure on theintricacies of air travel safety. Given the highly complex socio-technological nature of the aviation system, it was extremely demanding for an organization just established and faced with strenuous financial and human resources, to fully discharge the responsibilities that it was entrusted with.
Nevertheless,through the technical assistance of ICAO and UNDP, staff training and organizational capacity building continued in the late nineteen hundred and eighties until the mid nineties. At the end of the ICAO-UNDP project the Department was staffed with fairly adequate human resources required for safety regulation and provision of air navigation services. Over the years DCA’s function expanded gradually to include development and management of airport, delivery of airport services and as a air navigation services provider.