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The Aviation Herald
The Boeing 737-700 aircraft of Mozambique Airlines (LAM) that suffered damage in the western province of Tete last Thursday was not involved in any type of collision, according to the regulatory body, the Mozambique Civil Aviation Institute (IACM).
Presenting a preliminary report on the incident at a Maputo press conference on Tuesday, the chairperson of the IACM board, Joao de Abreu, said there was no sign that any flying object had collided with the Boeing – even though this had been the assumption made by LAM itself at the time.
The aircraft had left Maputo at 15.35 on Thursday, with 80 passengers and six crew members, and was due to arrive in Tete at 17.15. As the plane prepared to land, with the Tete runway in sight, the crew heard a loud noise, which suggested that something had struck the aircraft.
The plane was able to land normally, and once on the ground the crew confirmed that there was damage to the right side of the front of the fuselage, and reached the conclusion that there had indeed been a collision.
The story which travelled around the world was that the Boeing had collided with a drone. But not only was there no sign of any wreckage from a drone, but nobody is known to be operating drones in the vicinity of Tete airport.
Abreu said that the IACM investigators interviewed the captain of the Boeing, the co-pilot and other witnesses living under the plane’s flight path. Nothing that the investigators heard or saw led them to believe there had been a collision, or that any atmospheric disturbance had caused the damage.
Instead, they concluded that there had been a structural problem – a “material failure” of the plane’s radome. A radome is a dome-like structure, usually at the front of an aircraft that protects the plane’s radar assembly from damage. It is thus part of the nose of the plane’s fuselage.
The radome of this particular Boeing was acquired as a used part from an American company that provides aviation components and spare parts. The IACM believes that the radome failed because of defective repairs in the past.
Abreu said that the radome was duly certified by the supplier and was installed on the Boeing during major maintenance work in South Africa on 27 June last year.
The radome will now be submitted to NDT (Non-Destructive Tests) i n Mozambique, and will be sent for a new MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) in South Africa. The damaged component has already been replaced and the Boeing is again flying LAM routes.Source: AIM