An Air Zimbabwe Boeing 767-200 was forced to return to Bangkok after receiving an abnormal engine indication notice on July 1st, shutting an engine down mid-flight. Registration number Z-WPF was performing a repatriation flight from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) to Islamabad International Airport (ISB).
According to The Aviation Herald, the 30-year-old aircraft was at 34,000 feet 150 nautical miles northwest of the Thai capital when they had a problem with the port side engine.
The aircraft was repatriating 180 people from Pakistan
The plane carrying two passengers and 17 crew was on a humanitarian mission to Pakistan to repatriate 180 Zimbabweans and South Africans stranded by the COVID-19 global pandemic. Before entering Myanmar airspace, the pilots shut down the engine (PW4056) and descended to 21,000 feet before turning around and landing safely in Bangkok 90 minutes later.
According to news website New Zimbabwe, the airline issued a statement which read:
“Air Zimbabwe special repatriation flight UM462 flying from Bangkok was early morning forced to make an air turn back to Bangkok resulting from an abnormal engine parameter which necessitated a precautionary left engine shutdown in accordance with established standard operating procedures,”
“The B767-200 ER aircraft, which had 17 crew and two passengers on board, landed safely at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok at 0839hrs (UTC).
The carrier added that its engineers are making all necessary assessments and maintenance arrangements for the plane’s return to service.
The Air Zimbabwe jet will next be used to bring students home from China
In April 2019, the same aircraft suffered a fire shortly after taking off from OR Tambo International Airport (JNB). The flight deck informed Johannesburg Air Traffic Control that they would be returning to the airport. However, as they turned around, the fire went out, and they carried on to Harare.
On Wednesday, Zimbabwe Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo told the countries Senate that once its Islamabad mission was completed, the aircraft would be used to repatriate Zimbabwean students stranded in China.
The aircraft named “Chimanimani” has had an exciting life over its 30-years in service and is now the only remaining aircraft in the Air Zimbabwe fleet.
In September of 2012, it was put in storage at Robert Gabriel Mugabe Airport (HRE). After that, it eventually returned to service in September of 2014. According to Planespotters.net, the plane was then once more mothballed for a year from November 2017.
The Boeing 767 has been impounded twice because of Air Zimbabwe debts
In 2011 the Air Zimbabwe plane was famously impounded at London Gatwick Airport. This was after it failed to pay a $1.2 million that they owed for spare parts. The rumor at the time was that the Zimbabwean government was planning a second airline called Zimbabwe Airways. If true, this move could have been done to prevent the same kind of thing from happening again.
Well, guess what? History did repeat itself when the very same aircraft got impounded due to the airline’s failure to pay its debts. This time it happened at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.
Have you ever flown with Air Zimbabwe on its Boeing 767? If so, we would love to hear all about it in the comments.