A replacement engine for Air Zimbabwe’s B767-200ER is on its way to Bangkok, Thailand and will be fitted by a team of engineers from the national airline under the watchful eye of Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) experts.
The engine left Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport on a KLM flight and is expected in Bangkok in the next five days.
Air Zimbabwe spokesperson, Ms Firstme Vitori said once the engine arrived in Bangkok, “our team of engineers will carry out the engine replacement, testing and recertification for return to service of the aircraft”.
“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. As an airline, Air Zimbabwe operates in a highly regulated industry where safety is of utmost and paramount importance.”
Sources told The Herald that Air Zimbabwe engineers would fit the engine since there are no qualified B767 engineers in Thailand as that aircraft type is not flown in that country.
However, regulations require that Thai engineers be present during the exercise.
This is believed to be the first time ever that the Air Zimbabwe engineers are undertaking such a major task away from their Harare base although replacing an engine is routine.
The B767 aircraft has been grounded since July 1, 2020 after it was forced to turn back on its way to Islamabad, Pakistan, on a repatriation operation. The anticipated speedy movement of the replacement engine was delayed due to logistical challenges in light of Covid-19 restrictions.
Air Zimbabwe engineers completed the defect troubleshooting last week, hence the despatch of the engine. After the fitting of the engine, there are standard guidelines and procedures for testing and certification, and when these are complete the aircraft will be released for service.
When the aircraft developed the engine fault, it had to return to Bangkok flying on one engine.
The B767-200 ER had 17 crew members and two passengers on board, on its way to Islamabad to pick up 180 passengers returning to South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The Air Zimbabwe flight UM462 was forced to turn back mid-flight to Islamabad after an abnormal engine parameter, which necessitated a precautionary left engine shut down in accordance with established standard operating procedures.
But it landed safely at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok.
The B767 has two engines and is designed to fly on one engine in the event of a problem on the other, but it should then land and not proceed on its journey until the problem is completely sorted out.