July 16, 2019
Around Zimbabwe Travel

Air Zimbabwe acquires Embraer jet

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Air Zimbabwe has taken delivery of an Embraer ERJ145 which should ease pressure on its only serviceable plane which has been plying all routes.

The nimble aircraft, reputed for its efficiency and low running costs, was acquired from the United States but is made in Brazil.

The plane touched down at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare at 1.30PM on Tuesday, just 48 hours after Air Zimbabwe grounded its Boeing 767-200 ER for an engine change following a fire incident on take-off from Johannesburg on April 28.

The Embraer ERJ145, with a capacity of 50 passengers and a range of up to 2,873km, flew out of Kansas City International Airport last Friday and made several stops on its ferry flight before final landing in Harare.

Air Zimbabwe, weighed down by debts of up to US$300 million and an ageing fleet, was promised new aircraft by the Zimbabwe government, the sole shareholder, as far back as 2016.

But a botched deal to acquire four Boeing 777 aircraft from Malaysia has left the airline reeling, with its planes grounded for heavy maintenance visits or D-checks, which must be carried out at least once every 10 years and can cost up to US$2 million on older aircraft.

The Embraer, which carries the livery of the ill-fated Zimbabwe Airways, is expected to be thrown into service as soon as registration formalities are completed with the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe, which Air Zimbabwe officials say should take about 21 days.

The plane will also undergo a paint job to replace the Zimbabwe Airways livery with that of Air Zimbabwe, which is taking over all assets acquired by the government under the former.

Meanwhile, Air Zimbabwe said an investigation into a reported fire on flight UM462 from Johannesburg to Harare on Sunday had been completed.

In a statement on Tuesday, the airline said there was “an engine surge on the aircraft as a result of a foreign object ingestion at take-off, on the left engine.”

“This resulted in some brief sparks on the tail pipe and not an actual fire and those sparks extinguished shortly afterwards. The pilot took all necessary precautions including checking all the parameters and concluded that there was no compromise or safety risk to passengers and crew onboard hence the decision to proceed to RGM International Airport where the aircraft landed safely at 8.35PM,” Air Zimbabwe said.

The airline said the left engine on the Boeing767, tail number Z-WPF, had been replaced which had been followed by successful “mandatory test flights and checks.”

The aircraft was expected to be back in service on Tuesday evening, Air Zimbabwe said, while apologising to its passengers who have faced major disruptions after Sunday’s grounding. — ZimLive


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