Bird Strike Grounds Air Zimbabwe Plane , Causes Travel Chaos

An Air Zimbabwe plane has been grounded for repairs after it struck birds on take-off from Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport in Bulawayo on Monday morning.

The Boeing 737, bound for Harare, completed its flight after the bird strike incident.

Engineers will assess the damage to the plane’s engines before the aircraft can fly again.

But the state airline, already struggling for fit aircraft, went into scheduling chaos with several flights affected on Monday and Tuesday.

For Monday, the affected flights were the Harare-Victoria Falls-Bulawayo afternoon flight; the Bulawayo-Harare evening flight and for Tuesday the Harare-Johannesburg-Harare flights.

A statement from the airline did not contain a new schedule for the flights.

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“We will make an effort to call and send SMS to all our valued guests on their provided contact numbers and ensure that they are notified of any updates to their flights,” the airline said.

 

With the B737 out of commission, Air Zimbabwe only have one other plane in operation – a Boeing 767 – which must now service several routes until the B737 is passed fit to fly.

Bird strikes – the collision between a plane and birds – are common in aviation, but rarely cause major accidents. Most incidents involve birds being sucked into the plane’s engines, which could sometimes result in damage to the engine fan blades.

There are over 13,000 bird strikes annually in the United States alone, but the number of major accidents involving civilian aircraft is quite low and it has been estimated that there is only about one accident resulting in human death in one billion flying hours.

Joshua Mqabuko International Airport has two main bird species large enough to cause problems for a big plane like a B737 – clover and stork.

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