Harare-crash 767 recorders sent for analysis

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Investigators examining the EgyptAir Boeing 767-300ER damaged during a heavy landing at Harare on February 22 are preparing to send the aircraft's two flight recorders to the US for analysis.

According to Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe chief executive Godfrey Manhambara, the aircraft is "significantly damaged", having lost one of its two Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines during the incident. He says: "The engine itself is a complete wreck."

He adds that the 11-year-old aircraft - EgyptAir's only remaining 767-300ER, registered SU-GAO - is presently being held "in a secure and secluded area while investigations are underway". The investigation is "in full swing" with representatives from Boeing, Pratt & Whitney and the Egyptian CAA assisting the CAA of Zimbabwe inspectors.

While the precise cause of the accident is not known, EgyptAir says that flight MS880 was conducting its approach in "bad weather conditions, with high crosswinds, gusts and unpredicted windshear".

As the aircraft touched down at Harare International Airport, its port wing dipped, causing the number one engine to strike the ground. The engine broke away from the wing and, according to EgyptAir, the aircraft subsequently left the runway: "The pilot was able to manoeuvre the aircraft back on to the runway and make a safe stop, despite the engine separation."

EgyptAir has also sent an investigation team to study the aircraft. Chairman Mohammed Fahim Rayan says: "We will work together with the safety authorities to ensure that we find out what happened, and do all we can to ensure that this does not happen again."

Although the incident closed the airport for 10hr, Manhambara says the airport's single runway was not damaged and was open to traffic by 21:35 the following evening.

Of the 77 passengers and 17 crew on board, none received serious injuries, although eight passengers were hospitalised following the evacuation.