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” TROUBLED national airliner, Air Zimbabwe weekend suffered an embarrassing mid-flight mishap when liquid suspected to be effluent on a South Africa-bound plane’s lavatory found its way into the cabin, much to the disgust of passengers.
However, the troubled national airline’s public relations (PR) manager Shingy Dhliwayo was at pains Tuesday to dismiss images of the incident as nothing close to effluent as was being alleged by a passenger.
A South African journalist who was on Flight UM467 posted images of the incident on social media, throwing the carrier into yet another PR setback to an airliner already battling negative image.
“Just thought to share some pictures from my flight this morning on Air Zimbabwe UM 465 to Joburg,” said the journalist.
“About 30 mins to landing effluent began pouring down the aisle from the lavatory.
“Rather than make an announcement explaining what was happening to bewildered passengers the crew was upset that I was taking pictures.
“They threatened to hand me over to security operatives ‘for trying to embarrass’ the airline.
“Luckily, I was landing in Joburg and I knew there was no way they could carry out that threat.”
‘It was clean water’
However, in a statement, Dhliwayo downplayed the incident, saying the liquid flowing on the aisle was in fact clean water which was ironically dripping from the lavatory.
“We refer to sensational and exaggerated media reports which claim that raw effluent was discharged in the cabin on an Air Zimbabwe flight from Harare to Johannesburg.
“On the 6th of December 2015 our B767 which operated UM467 had a minor fault in the lavatory system of the aircraft.
“The online reports which suggest sewer flowing in the cabin are not true because it is technically impossible for the waste to flow back as the B767 aircraft`s waste system uses a vacuum source to suck waste to the collector tank (Differential pressure above 17000 feet).”
The system, Dhliwayo continued, also consists of safety nets that prevent return of raw waste to the toilet bowl in addition to cabin air pressure.
“This system, which is different from that used in homes, is actually one of the best designs of waste disposal systems and is in use on most new generation aircraft,” she said.
“The middle right lavatory hand wash basin overflowed as the water faucet was left running.
“As a result, water overflowed from the hand wash basin, spilled onto the lavatory floor and subsequently in the cabin aisle during descent into Johannesburg.”
Dhliwayo added: “The hand wash basin water is clean, sanitised and odourless.
“Eventually the on board engineer isolated the water supply to the affected lavatory system.”
The Air Zimbabwe spokesperson said the perceived raw effluent in the cabin being depicted in the social media “is the effect of light glare”.
“Air Zimbabwe is committed to offering an excellent service to its customers and ensuring safety and comfort on board our aircraft,” she said.
“At no time during the flight was the safety and health of our passengers and crew compromised including the performance of the equipment.
“We would like to reassure all our passengers of our continuous commitment to a safe, reliable and hospitable air service.”
The national flag carrier is known for all the wrong reasons. These include flight delays, recurrent job actions by pilots over poor wages and sometimes flying a single passenger. source-newzimbabwe