An Air Zimbabwe plane yesterday developed a technical fault about an hour into flight en route to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The flight took off from the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport at 1:20 pm. The incident is said to have been so serious that at one point the plane seemed to be falling to the ground. Passengers who spoke to ZOOMZimbabwe had this to say
It was frightening. Suddenly there was panic and fear among the passengers. We are having a minor technical fault and will have to return to Harare.
We were over Mozambique when we started hearing strange whining sounds from the engine. In no time, the plane went into a minor spin. Passengers could be heard uttering prayers… The return journey took forever. Every now and then, the turbulence would kick in followed by some strange whine from the engine.
When we eventually landed, a number of fire tenders were lining up the runway ready for the worst. We landed nicely though at around 3:20 pm, but some airport security threatened passengers who wanted to take photos of the rushing fire tenders.
In a statement, Air Zimbabwe has shed more light on the incident. The airline said
Air Zimbabwe wishes to inform the public that its flight UM438 Harare to Dar es Salaam on 27 November 2018, experienced a mid-air turn back. The flight turn-back was due to extreme weather conditions which had the potential to affect safe flight operation. Our pilot deemed it unsafe to proceed with the flight and made the emergency call to turn back and return to base (Air Zimbabwe Harare Station), in line with aviation quality and safety standards in such incidences – a decision which is appropriate and acceptable where passenger safety is at stake.
All passengers on this flight landed safely at Robert Mugabe International Airport in the afternoon. In the meantime, alternative travel arrangements have been made for all the affected passengers for their flight to Dar es Salaam.
After the incident, Air Zimbabwe officials told passengers to check in on Wednesday at 13:00 hrs for a replacement flight. However, at around 18.00 hrs on Tuesday, the airline started calling passengers asking them to return for a replacement flight at 22.00 hrs.
Meanwhile, two of the passengers interviewed on Tuesday have indicated that they are now in Dar es Salaam after Air Zimbabwe replaced the problem aircraft with another one late night Tuesday. The replacement flight landed in Dar es Salaam at around 3.30am Wednesday.