SACAA said it was probing an incident involving Air Zimbabwe’s flight UM-462, which experienced a malfunction in one of its engines. Picture: Xinhua/Chen Yaqin

Pretoria - The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) on Tuesday said its accident and incident investigation division (AIID) was probing an incident involving Air Zimbabwe’s flight UM-462, which experienced a malfunction in one of its engines that resulted in a tailpipe fire.

The incident occurred on Sunday evening, just minutes after the Boeing 767-200ER aircraft took-off from the OR Tambo International Airport at Kempton Park. The aeroplane eventually landed safely at the Harare International Airport in Zimbabwe.
"The AIID has commenced with the evidence collection phase. The evidence collection phase will define the size and scope of the investigation and determine the expected timeframe for the completion of a final report. Regardless, a preliminary report will be issued within 30 days from the date of the occurrence," said SACAA's Kabelo Ledwaba.
He said the incident fell within the "mandatory reportable occurrences" category.

"Thus far, the AIID team has managed to preliminarily gather that the aircraft, an Air Zimbabwe Boeing 767-200, with registration marks Z-WPF, was undertaking flight UM-462 from OR Tambo International Airport to Harare International Airport with 98 passengers and nine crew on board," said Ledwaba.
"The flight crew informed air traffic control that the technical malfunction related to a left engine surge, however after completing the emergency checklist, the flight crew subsequently reported the fault had cleared and they had normal operation and indicated their intention to continue with the flight to Harare. They did so successfully and the aircraft landed safely in Harare at approximately 20:30."

Despite the successful landing of the plane, the AIID team had started engaging the airline as well as their counterparts at the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe in an effort to gather additional information.  

The SACAA is a public entity under the national department of transport, in terms of the Civil Aviation Authority Act. In terms of mandate, SACAA is tasked with "promoting and maintaining a safe, secure and sustainable civil aviation environment, by regulating and overseeing the functioning and development of the industry in an efficient, cost-effective, and customer-friendly manner according to international standards".

Earlier this week, Air Zimbabwe, based at the R.G Mugabe International Airport in Harare, issued a brief statement relating to the incident. 

"The malfunction did not threaten the continuation of the flight and the safety of crew and passengers on board and it landed safely in Harare at 20:35 hours. Our engineers have commenced the requisite investigations and a report will be issued in due course," Air Zimbabwe said in a statement attributed to "management".

African News Agency (ANA)