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Accident description
Last updated: 21 October 2017
Status:Final
Date:Thursday 22 April 1999
Time:15:45 UTC
Type:Silhouette image of generic B721 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Boeing 727-23
Operating for:Zimbabwe Express Airlines
Leased from:Million Air Charter
Registration: ZS-IJE
C/n / msn: 18443/111
First flight: 1965-01-25 (34 years 3 months)
Engines: 3 Pratt & Whitney JT8D-7B
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 8
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 58
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 66
Airplane damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location:Johannesburg (   South Africa)
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Harare Airport (HRE/FVHA), Zimbabwe
Destination airport:Johannesburg International Airport (JNB/FAJS), South Africa
Narrative:
The aircraft was on a flight from Harare to Johannesburg International Airport, cruising at FL350 when the aircraft was cleared inbound to HBV for landing on runway 03 at Johannesburg. The aircraft then started to descend approximately 90nm from JSV when the radar indicated two small cells in the vicinity of HBV. The pilot reduced the IAS to 250 knots and maneuvered the aircraft to the east of track to avoid these cells when he experienced light turbulence as the aircraft passed abeam the cells. Approximately 10 nm after passing the cells, the pilot experienced a severe updraft with the aircraft climbing between 1500 to
2000 feet/min at FL200 an IAS of 230 knots. During the updraft however, the pilot encountered severe turbulence followed by very large hailstones for approximately 30 seconds. The aircraft then flew into VMC conditions after approximately 1 minute. According to the pilot, the Radar showed no returns to indicate any hail. The aircraft landed safely at Johannesburg without any further incident. No injuries were sustained to the crew or passengers. The aircraft was damaged beyond economical repair due to hail damage.
The Flight Engineer of the aircraft added "due to poor unreliable equipment, being the radar, no returns were painted and we penetrated what appeared to be an embedded cell.".

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "Aircraft encountered severe turbulence and was subjected to severe hail damage during descent for landing at FAJS."

Accident investigation:
cover
Investigating agency: CAA SouthAfrica
Status: Investigation completed
Accident number: J10/2/7070
Download report: Final report

Sources:
» Neil Lawrence
» Scramble 243


Photos

photo of Boeing 727-23 ZS-IJE
photo of Boeing 727-23 ZS-IJE
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Map
This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Harare Airport to Johannesburg International Airport as the crow flies is 955 km (597 miles).

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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Boeing 727

  • 1832 built
  • 87th loss
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 South Africa
  • 32nd worst accident (at the time)
  • 39th worst accident (currently)
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