State-owned airline Air Zimbabwe, has begun training six pilots to fly the recently acquired Brazilian-made Embraer aircraft, NewsDay has learnt.
Report by Bernard Mpofu
Air Zimbabwe, which is currently restructuring, plans to add the new aircraft to its fleet through a lease-to-own arrangement with South Africa-based Solenta Aviation. Embraer is one of the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers.
The Brazilian company manufactures its ERJ range which has a seating capacity of between 37 and 50 and is meant for regional and domestic commercial airline operators.
Sources said the airline is also putting livery on the new planes.
An aircraft livery is a paint scheme applied to an aircraft, generally to the fuselage, wings, empennage (tail fin), or jet engines. Most airlines have a standard paint scheme for their aircraft fleet, usually prominently displaying the airline logo or name.
Company spokesperson Shingai Taruvinga confirmed the development, but could not divulge when the training would be completed because the process is rigorous.
“We have begun the rebranding exercise. We are doing that process once the plane goes for C-check. Our Boeing 767 has already been rebranded,” Taruvinga said.
She added that the airline is currently training local pilots to fly the 50-seater aircraft at a time when the airline has increased its domestic flights driven by an ongoing price-slashing promotion.
Air Zimbabwe, she added, is expected to resume flights to London as the airline takes on international airlines which have, since the introduction of multiple currencies, expressed renewed interest in Zimbabwe.
“The response to the promotion has been overwhelming. We now have two daily flights on the Harare-Bulawayo route as well as the Harare-Victoria Falls route,” she said.
Sources close to the developments said the pilots would undergo training in Zimbabwe and France with the expectation to replace South African pilots currently flying the new planes, servicing the traditionally viable Harare-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls route.
“The training is expected to take between 90 and 120 days for qualified pilots because Embraer is widely seen as a surrogate of the Airbus. It’s the on-board training which is expected to take place in France. The airline also realised that it is cheaper to do the training in France rather than Brazil,” a source said.
The training, the source said, will involve computer-based training which will be done locally as well as the simulator and on-board training to be done in France.