AIR Zimbabwe’s long-haul Boeing 767, grounded in July after developing a technical fault, is now undergoing a mandatory modification in Germany where
it was taken for repairs, businessdigest established this week.
The aircraft, one of two Boeing 767-200 Extended Range planes flying international routes, has not been in the air since developing an oil leak after flying to London’s Gatwick International Airport last July where it was declared unfit to fly.
The aircraft runs on a Pratt & Whitney 4 000 engine.
The remaining Boeing 767 has been flying to all international routes previously serviced by the two planes. These include the London, Beijing, Singapore and Dubai routes.
Travel agents said the delay in repairing the plane had severely affected servicing of the airline’s international routes.
The airliner was moved for repairs to Lufthansa Technik’s workshops in Hamburg, Germany, in July. Lufthansa
Technik, which specialises in aviation engineering, maintenance and overhaul services, is a subsidiary of Lufthansa German Airlines, which also operates Lufthansa Airline.
Although Air Zimbabwe’s Boeing aircraft was expected to have returned in August, information obtained this week indicated that Air Zimbabwe’s management had eventually decided that the Boeing should undergo the mandatory modification after the technical fault had necessitated the opening of the aircraft’s engine.
The bearing that had caused the leak was inside the engine, resulting in engineers deciding to drop the engine from the pylon for repairs.
A decision was then made to have the repairs done concurrently with a mandatory modification, ordered about three years ago by the engine’s manufacturer, Pratt & Whitney. Pratt & Whitney makes, designs and supports engines for commercial, military and general aircraft and space propulsion systems.
Sources said the modification, meant to improve engine efficiency, was ordered by Pratt & Whitney for all Boeing 767s, 747s and 737s.
Acting Air Zimbabwe CEO, Oscar Madombwe, himself a practising pilot, yesterday confirmed the mandatory modification for the Boeing 767.
“We had planned it would go to the workshop before the (engine leak),” said Madombwe. He said the nature of the repairs had later resulted in a decision that the modifications be embodied on the engine at the same time as the repairs.
Air Zimbabwe spokesman, David Mwenga, confirmed they had taken the plane to Germany.
“We decided to take the plane to Germany for repair because here in Zimbabwe we do not have the technical equipment and capacity to open engines. The Boeing 767 PW 4 000 engine is special and requires expert attention; this is a job that we can’t handle here,” Mwenga said.
In a press statement issued late yesterday following businessdigest’s press enquiries to his office, Mwenga said Lufthansa Technik was Air Zimbabwe’s “partner who overhauls our B767 engines”.
“Luftansa Technick is about to complete the overhaul and advises us that it should be ready for putting back on the wings the first week of October,” a statement by Mwenga, quoting Air Zimbabwe’s acting director of Engineering and Technical Operations, Boston Odongo said.
Mwenga said Air Zimbabwe would be sending 12 engineers to Lufthansa Technik next month to do an engine re-installation, general aircraft inspection and maintenance before the aircraft was brought back into the country by October 9.