By SANFROSSA MANYINDA
AN Ethiopian Cargo flight erroneously landed at the new Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport in Ndola which is still under construction after the pilot ignored the guidance from air traffic controllers, Ministry of Transport and Communication Permanent Secretary, Misheck Lungu has said.
When contacted, Ethiopian Airlines said ‘the fact that there was no NOTAM issued regarding the construction of the new airport which has the same runway heading orientation with the existing one and the close proximity between the two airports may have contributed to the incident’.
The incident happened between 12:00 and 14:00 hours on Sunday.
This shocked some workers who were on site and kept their eyes on the plane as they wanted to see what exactly was happening.
“Preliminary investigations have indicated that the pilot of the plane did not follow the guidance, hence the error,” Mr Lungu said.
He however said investigations had been instituted on the matter to establish what exactly happened.
“We have not received a written report but according to the explanation that we got, it appears that the pilot ignored the instructions to guide him not to land.
“By the time he was realising that he was about to land on the wrong airport which has not yet been opened, it was too late because he had already descended,” Mr Lungu said in an interview.
And in responding to a query, the airline acknowledged that its Freighter Flight number ET 3891/4 April B-737-800F on a cargo service from Addis Ababa to Ndola, Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe Airport , Zambia landed at the new airport, Copperbelt International Airport which was yet to be inaugurated.
“The cargo flight made safe landing in the new airport. Although details of the incident are under investigation in coordination with the Zambian Aeronautical Authorities, the fact that there was no NOTAM issued regarding the construction of the new airport which has the same runway heading orientation with the existing one and the close proximity between the two airports may have contributed to the incident,” the airline said.
Ethiopian Airlines said it takes flight safety seriously and treats it as the top most priority and accordingly it will take all necessary corrective and preventive measures in line with the findings of the investigation.
The New Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe, being constructed by Avic International, is at 90 percent complete and not yet operational..