Zimbabwe deputy minister 'shaken' as plane hits bird, causing engine fire

An aeroplane strikes birds. (file)
An aeroplane strikes birds. (file)

Zimbabwe's deputy minister of Land, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement was aboard an Air Zimbabwe aeroplane that suffered a mid-air mishap on Monday.

According to Bulawayo24.com, deputy minister Vangelis Haritatos said the plane hit some birds on take-off.

The bird strike caused some engine sparks that unsettled some passengers.

"We were all visibly shaken as blowing sounds and sparks came from the affected engine on impact, but the pilot Captain Chiwara and his crew were true professionals," Haritatos told the publication.

READ: Air Zimbabwe engine catches 'brief' fire during flight from OR Tambo, lands safely

Increase in incidents

In a statement, Air Zimbabwe assured the public that the incident did not threaten the safety of passengers and crew.

"Air Zimbabwe wishes to inform the public that their Boeing 767-200ER servicing flight UM462 (JNB/HRE) on 28 April 2019 experienced a malfunction on one of its engines resulting in a brief tail pipe fire.

"However, the malfunction did not threaten the continuation of the flight and safety of the crew and passengers on board and it landed safely in Harare at 2035hrs," said the company in a statement.

It added that the incident may result in normal schedule disruption.

According to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) the majority of bird strikes occur during take-off and landing and they can pose a significant risk to aviation.

FAA data showed an increase in animal strikes from 1 847 in 1990 to 13 795 in 2015.

In 2009, Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger made headlines when he successfully landed US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River off Manhattan after both engines were disabled after the plane struck a flock of geese.

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