PASSENGERS aboard an Air Zimbabwe Boeing 737 plane from Harare to Bulawayo had a mid-air scare yesterday morning after the plane developed a mechanical fault minutes after takeoff. This is the second time in two months that the plane has been forced to fly back to Harare because of technical faults following another incident on August 6.
Maggie Masanga, one of the passengers on board the Boeing 737, said on Twitter: “Scary s***. I should be in Bulawayo now, but back in Harare. Technical fault in mid-air.”
“takangonzwa zvongonzi ndege haichapindi muma gear, ndipo pendakasimudzwa pa seat pangu ndokubva vatanga kukudubura vachigadzira-gadzira….ndikati Vakomana munogadzira ndege ichifamba kudai kunge Kombi….ndakangofunga kuti nhasi tazofa pano, ndakabva ndatanga kunamata nendimi”
No official comment was forthcoming from Air Zimbabwe yesterday, but passengers said the landing gear could not retract after takeoff.
“The scariest bit was the crew trying to manually retract the landing gear right under my seat,” Masanga said.
The pilot was forced to turn around some minutes after taking off from Harare International Airport and landed safely without incident.
The passengers, who had boarded the plane at 7:15AM, were delayed by about three hours at Harare International Airport before they were transferred to an MA60 plane.
They eventually left at 10AM and landed at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo (JMN) International Airport at around 10:45AM.
Harare-bound passengers who were at JMN only boarded the MA60 at 11AM and arrived in Harare at 11:45AM.
On August 6, about 60 Air Zimbabwe passengers had a mid-air scare after one of the engines on the B737 flight UM331 they were flying in from Harare to Bulawayo developed a mechanical fault, minutes after takeoff.
The pilot was forced to turn around 20 minutes after takeoff from Harare International Airport and landed safely.
No one was injured.
Despite the incidents, Air Zimbabwe’s safetyrecord remains intact as the national airline has not been involved in any major accident since independence in 1980.