Private airliner Proflight has revealed that it has withdrawn the aircraft that was involved in a hailstorm on Tuesday.
The airline says the Bombardier Dash 8 Turbo prop aircraft will be out of service until the aircraft undergoes thorough maintenance and is certified to fly again.
In a statement, the airline confirms that confirms on Tuesday, while descending through cloud, its aircraft encountered severe hail as it came into land at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport.
It said the aircraft had 41 passengers and five crew members on board and landed safely and that no one was injured during the incident.
“The damage caused by the hailstorm was significant and there was potentially a lightning strike in addition but this is pending closer inspection and not yet confirmed,” it said.
Flight P00705 departed Livingstone Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport at 14:26 and arrived in Lusaka at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport at 15:26.
“As a result of the incident, the aircraft will be out of service until the aircraft undergoes thorough maintenance and is certified to fly again. In the meantime, Proflight is working closely with its operations and safety departments to minimise disruption to schedules.”
“Safety is Proflight Zambia’s primary concern in order to provide the highest world-class aviation services to Zambia,” said Director Flight Operations, Captain Josias Walubita.
“Weather incidents are not uncommon in the aviation sector at this time of year, and Proflight has robust systems and procedures to ensure safety.
“We commend Capt. Walter Nhliziyo and his crew for their professionalism in dealing with the incident in the manner in which they are trained to do, and thank the passengers who were on board for their support.”
And some passengers shared terrifying accounts of the incident moments after landing at KKIA.
Swithin Haangala said the accident was one to the most horrifying episodes of his life.
“On take off pilot warns us about storms and turbulence between Choma and Mazabuka. As we climb, there is the usual turbulence, nothing untoward. We settle into flight and all is calm. I notice a turn and think to myself that the pilot is avoiding some clouds,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
“We are now just over thirty minutes into the flight and by my calculation we are definitely between Choma and Mazabuka. The announcement from the pilot comes. We have started our descent. I feel relaxed. It seems the storm warning was just a precaution.”
“And then a loud bang, a whoosh of noise and heavy rain pelts the plane. We lose altitude and start dancing in the air. Still nothing to worry about. The cabin attendant who is preparing for landing takes the seat next to me. “Time to sit down”, he tells me. I am seated, my hands now firmly gripping the seat rest in from of me. I let out a nervous laugh. “Are you scared, I ask him”. He smiles assuringly at me. “If I get scared how would you react with the other passengers.” A few minutes later and the plane has ridden the storm and he goes to his usual seat.”
He added, “Everything is all calm, but I have a searing pain in my left ear and my head feels like it’s being torn off. I look around. Everyone seems calm but my head is pounding and the pain in the ear is becoming unbearable. After a few moments the pain calms down a bit and we land safely and smoothly.”
“As we come out of the plane, we see the damage on the plane. Surprisingly all of us share the pain of the headache and the pounding ear. We seem to have just survived a near disaster but thanks to the pilots and crew, none of us realize the danger we have been in thanks to the Proflight crew.”