Air Zimbabwe on 15 July 2020 finally sent the replacement engine for its grounded B767-200ER in Bangkok (BKK). UM462 was on the first of July operating a reparation flight to Islamabad, Pakistan of Zimbabweans and South Africans when the crew received an abnormal engine indication and turned back to Suvarnabhumi International Airport BKK.
The engine left Harare for Bangkok on a KLM Cargo flight and is expected to be in Bangkok within a week. Speaking to local media, The Herald, Air Zimbabwe spokesperson Ms Firstme Vitori said “once the engine arrives in Bangkok, our team of engineers will carry out the engine replacement, testing and recertification for return of the aircraft”.
At the time of the incident, flight UM462 had 17 crew members and two passengers on board, on its way to Islamabad to uplift 180 passengers for repatriation to Johannesburg and Harare.
Another local news agency Review and Mail claimed Air Zimbabwe was putting pressure on relevant Zimbabwean officials to sign off the engine that was involved in an engine surge occurrence departing OR Tambo International in last 2019.
On 11 July 2020, The Review and Mail said “The engine that is in Harare, and could have been flown this week but for the insistence of the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe on due process, suffered two engine surges in Bulawayo and Johannesburg last year – causing fires. Preliminary investigations indicated that the engine had developed cracks and needed to be fixed overseas, but Air Zimbabwe did not repair it. Further substantive probes by the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe and the South African Airports Company, have not yet been concluded”.
Vitori responded to these allegations “Contrary to false reports which have circulated on social media platforms, this engine is completely serviceable and had been removed during routine maintenance. It is not the same as the one which had a bird strike from Bulawayo or the surge on take-off from Johannesburg in April 2019”. She added that “ Air Zimbabwe operates in a highly regulated industry where safety is of utmost and paramount importance.”
Thai Civil Aviation regulations require Thai engineers to be present during the replacement of the engine. Once replaced, the aircraft is subject to recertification by the Thai authorities before cleared for take-off.
Copyright 2020 Just African Aviation Pty Ltd, Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.justafricanaviation.com as the source.