Malawi receives two MA600 aircraft from China


The Malawi Defence Force has taken delivery of two MA600 transport aircraft from the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC).

The aircraft were readied for export in February this year, with Malawi’s Ambassador to China, Allan Chintedza, taking part in the aircraft acceptance process.

After a five-day flight from Kunming Changshui International Airport in China, the aircraft landed at Blantyre-Chileka International Airport on 18 July, where they were welcomed by Chinese and Malawian officials. One is painted in a civilian-style blue and white scheme, while the other features military-style grey paint.

On receiving the two aircraft, Malawi’s Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Defence, Erica Maganga, said the aircraft (MAF-T10 and MAF-T12) will be used to assist in transporting Malian soldiers to peacekeeping missions as well as ferrying top government officials, including the President. This will cut costs considerably, as it will no longer be necessary to charter aircraft for these missions, Key Publishing reports.

Malawi Defence Force Deputy Commander, Lieutenant General Paul Valentino Phiri, said civilians would also be carried when the need arises.

Malawian media report that the two aircraft were donated by the government of China. They provide a major boost to the Malawi Defence Force, as only helicopters (AS350B1, AS532L2 and SA330H) are currently in service with the Malawi Defence Force Air Wing. It used to operate a small number of fixed wing transports, like the Do 28, Do 228 and C-47 Dakota, but most of these are no longer in use.

The MA600 is an improved version of the Xian MA60 with new passenger cabin, new avionics system and Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127J turboprop engines developing more power. First rolled out in 2008, it has a 60-passenger capacity.

The air forces of Djibouti, Angola, Kenya, Zambia and Cameroon are some of the African users of the earlier MA60 aircraft.