Dozens of local residents near Kempton Park and OR Tambo International Airport reported seeing a plane’s engine on fire just after 19:00 on Sunday evening. The incident lead to a wave of confusion, even though Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) confirmed the flight was not severely affected by the mini-blaze.
Zimbabwe airliner, Boeing 767, engine on fire. Flight returning to OR Tambo international airport. pic.twitter.com/jWhcr1AnJx
— PigSpotter™ Pty Ltd (@PigSpotter) April 28, 2019
OR Tambo plane fire: What happened to Flight UM462?
The idea that a plane could carry on a flight while part of it was on fire proved hard to swallow for some, with several other sources reporting that flight UM462 had been forced to make an emergency landing. There was also confusion with another flight headed to Harare, which was mistaken for the fire-affected aircraft.
Amid the bemusement, no fatalities or injuries have been reported. In fact, Air Zimbabwe issued a statement about the incident late on Sunday night. They confirmed that a brief tailpipe fire took place on one of the engines, but the plane was able to reach Harare by 20:35 on Sunday night.
“Air Zimbabwe wishes to inform the public that their Boeing 767 servicing Flight UM462 (Johannesburg to Harare) on 28 April 2019 experienced a brief malfunction on one of its engines resulting in a brief tailpipe fire.”
“The malfunction didn’t threaten the continuation of the flight and safety of the crew and passengers on board. The flight landed safely in Harare ar 20:35. Our engineers have commenced the requisite investigation and a report will be issued in due course.”
Air Zimbabwe: No “emergency landing” took place
Reports of an “emergency landing” seem to have been dismissed by the official airliner. It was believed that emergency crews had been put on standby for Sunday evening, but they were never called into action.
Despite the initial panic that was caused by the whispers on social media, the pilots of Flight UM462 were able to land the plane safely without interrupting their journey. As ACSA confirmed to us, the fire was “contained and extinguished” without any casualties.