Zambia: ZAF Chopper Developed Power Failure - Minister

THE forced landing of the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) helicopter in Chinsali District on Wednesday was caused by a power failure, Defence Minister Geoffrey Mwamba has said.

Mr Mwamba said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that he had advised ZAF Commander Eric Chimese to invite the French manufacturers of the helicopter engine to examine it.

"Actually, the main cause was loss of power as it (helicopter) was trying to take off. We have since instituted investigations to ascertain what caused the loss of power," he said.

The minister said the helicopter was recently acquired.

After the forced landing, the helicopter was checked and flown from Chinsali to Lusaka where it safely landed around 17:30 hours the same day.

Mr Mwamba commended the pilot, describing him as gallant as he aborted the flight upon noticing the anomaly.

The plane had 10 passengers on board, among them Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations George Chellah, Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Effron Lungu, Muchinga Province Minister Charles Banda and his Permanent Secretary Charles Sipanje.

Others were Post reporter Roy Habaalu, Zambia Daily Mail reporter Chimwemwe Mwale, former President Kenneth Kaunda's aide de camp Boniface Nkhoma and three ZAF crew members.

The aircraft shortly after taking off around 11:00 hours landed on a marquee meant to accommodate guests who were in the area to witness the commissioning of the US$4.1 million Shiwang'andu mini-hydro-power station where President Sata was the guest of honour.

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