Engineers have identified the technical fault that occurred on Air Zimbabwe’s special repatriation flight that was on its way to Pakistan from Bangkok, Thailand, and the plane should be operational again within seven days when an engine has been replaced.
The B767-200ER will remain in Bangkok until engineers have replaced the affected engine, and experts have certified that it is airworthy.
Air Zimbabwe spokesperson Ms Firstme Vitori said yesterday that travel restrictions were delaying the required work.
“There have been some delays in movement due to the Covid-19 travel restrictions,” she said. “However, we expect the aircraft to be serviceable within seven days after delivery of a replacement engine in Bangkok.”
Asked when the aircraft can tentatively be ready to fly back home, Ms Vitori said there were standard guidelines and procedures for testing and certification, thereafter the aircraft would be “released for service accordingly”.
When the aircraft developed a fault, it had to return to Bangkok flying on one engine.
The B767-200 ER, flying on a charter flight to collect Zimbabweans and South Africans trapped in Asia after lockdown travel restrictions, had 17 crew members and two passengers on board and was on its way to Islamabad in Pakistan to pick up another 180 passengers when engine trouble arose.
Following standard procedures when the captain saw the abnormal engine parameter, the left engine was shut down and the plane reversed its course to return to Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok.
Captain Alex Makanda, a retired pilot who has accumulated 15 000 flying hours, 9 000 of them flying the Boeing 767, said the 767 has two engines and is designed to fly on one engine in the event of a problem, but should then land and not proceed on its journey until the problem was completely sorted out.