ZIMBABWE – Air Zimbabwe has engaged Canadian aircraft manufacturer Bombardier for supply of a new fleet of airplanes to replace the existing ageing fleet.
Bombardier sales director for Africa and Middle East Mr Sameer Adam said the company is willing to supply modern aircraft to replace Air Zimbabwe’s old fleet through the introduction of a Bombardier Q400, which is faster and cost effective. Bombardier’s turboprop Q400 has 67 seats and boasts of an active noise cancellation system. The aircraft has significantly lower operating costs compared to other planes.
“With this jet-like performance, the Q400 may be treated as a jet, preventing airport congestion normally attributed to the lack of understanding of a turboprop’s performance by air traffic controllers. “We have seen Zimbabwe is a market full of opportunities and we hope to strike a deal with Air Zimbabwe to supply and introduce the latest technology in this market,” said Mr Adam.
He said the Q400 Next Generation promises to keep the aircraft more in the air and less in the maintenance hangar, with intervals between checks significantly increased.
Mr Adam said Bombardier’s Q400 aircraft’s operating cost advantage made it ideal for Air Zimbabwe’s needs. He said the “A” check interval has been extended from 400 hours to 6 00 hours while the “C” check interval has been extended from 4 000 hours to 6 000 hours.
The “A” check interval for the ATR72-500 is 500 hours while the “C” check interval is 5000 hours and this means that the Q400 NextGen can generate significantly more revenue between checks.
“The toughest impression to erase from the minds of the travelling public is the twisted view on any airplane that has propeller blades. The propeller diameter on the Q400 is 13,5ft while the fan diameter of the largest jet engine in aviation history, the GE90 engines that power the Boeing 777, and is only 10,7ft.
“Such dimensions don’t miss the eye, and in the eye of most, any propeller is a loud flying machine employing old technology.
“The Q400 has two Pratt and Whitney PW150A turboprop engines that drive the six bladed Dowty (now part of GE Aviation) propellers. A turboprop engine in essence is a jet engine with a gearbox to increase the torque (the turning force) on the shaft which finally drives the propellers; this increased torque available at the expense of the shaft speed,” said Mr Adam.
He said the company has over 110 Q Series aircraft in Africa and they would be eager to offer services to Zimbabwe. Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Obert Mpofu said he hope the negotiations will bear fruit. He said this while addressing delegates who attended the Air Zimbabwe’s Bombardier Q400 next generation test flight to Kariba yesterday.
“Air Zimbabwe must take advantage of new technology being offered by Bombardier and select the most suitable aircraft for the local environment.
“Many companies have approached us with proposals for us to buy their planes and we are still considering them,” he said. Air Zimbabwe acting chief executive Mr Edmund Makona said the airline continues to look for opportunities to improve the existing fleet.