Govt still to get Embraer operating manual

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Nyasha Chingono

GOVERNMENT has engaged Embraer over delays in releasing crucial operating manuals for its Embraer ERJ145, six months after taking delivery of the aircraft from the manufacturer, the Zimbabwe Independent can report.

Transport minister Joel Biggie Matiza told the Independent this week that government has begun engaging Embraer over the grounded twin-engine ERJ145 jet, which was initially set to take off within the first six weeks of delivery.

Matiza said Air Zimbabwe (AirZim) had satisfied local registration requirements. The moribund airline, which has been flying only one aircraft since January, had pinned its recovery plan on the small aircraft purchased under the controversial Zimbabwe Airways.

The small bodied jet has been earmarked to service the local routes.“On the Embraer there are discussions going on with Embraer in terms of registration. The local registration is done, so we await Embraer to complete registration because we have to get access to the data.

There has been communication as to the urgency of the matter. But I can’t give you timelines as of now,” Matiza said.

To gain access to the manuals, AirZim is supposed to complete a rigorous “know your customer” (KYC). Under the KYC exercise, clients have to prove their ability to maintain the aircraft, as well as show the competence of its cabin crew, among other requirements.

The completion of the KYC guarantees access to the requisite manuals, which will allow the aircraft to become serviceable.

AirZim took control of the aircraft which was purchased in controversial circumstances by murky private airline ZimAirways from the United States in 2017.
In the absence of the operating manual, the plane cannot take off.

“The KYC is still in progress. Every other thing that we can do, we have done. But other processes cannot continue without those manuals,” an AirZim executive said.

The ERJ145 is expected to ease pressure on the Boeing 767, which AirZim is currently flying. The Boeing 767 survived a mid-air scare when it caught fire in May.

Matiza said two additional long-haul Boeing 777s will be delivered in December as government seeks to recapitalise AirZim, which was last year placed under reconstruction due to a gargantuan debt.

“Two Boeing 777s will be delivered sometime in December, although the other one could come sometime in November,” he said.

Only one of the three planes is currently flying, as the embattled airline battles to return to viability after decades of mismanagement and corruption. At Independence, AirZim had a fleet of 18 planes.

The insolvent AirZim has also failed to attract an investor, 11 months after government invited bids from potential suitors to take over the embattled entity.

The government has failed to regularise AirZim’s US$381 million debt assumption plan, weakening the airline’s chances of courting new partners.

The airline attracted 10 potential investors this year, but they have been spooked by the company’s legacy debts.

AirZim was last year placed under reconstruction after creditors threatened to sue the state-owned airline. Before the company was placed under reconstruction last year, creditors, including former employees, airlines, insurance companies and other service providers had been pushing for legal action against the airline.

Reconstruction cushions the troubled airline from litigation by creditors seeking to attach property. AirZim has is in the past indicated that its defunct aircraft will be auctioned to service part of the debt.

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