Uganda Airlines Temporarily revises flight schedules as management refutes claims of grounded aircraft
Uganda Airlines, the national carrier has temporarily revised some of their flight schedules, effective today 6th July 2021, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
According to the revised schedule, the airline shall only fly to Nairobi and Juba 7 times a week.
Flights to Dar-es-Salaam have been reduced to 5 times a week, while Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar shall each have only 2 flights per week.
Flights to Mombasa, Bujumbura and Kinshasa shall each be limited to 3 times a week. While, Mogadishu and Johannesburg shall each have 4 flights every week.
“We remain committed to our long standing and respected values of honesty, integrity, reliability, professionalism and hospitality” management says.
The development comes at a time when the airline is dealing with a number of challenges, following mechanical breakdown of the aircraft.
However, management says these have been fixed and all 4 CRJ are flying and without any technical faults.
In response to the former Board Chairman Pereza Ahabwe who told media that one of the CRJ Aircraft had been grounded due to a mechanical failure, the airline management said the issue had been fixed and all aircraft were flying.
On 10 April 2021, Engine No. 2 on CRJ900 Aircraft Registration: 5X-EQU suffered ingestion of a Foreign Object Damage (FOD). The incident resulted into damage to the engine and other structural parts beyond allowable serviceable limits.
The aircraft was immediately withdrawn from service. In consultation with the manufacturers, the following repairs were determined as necessary to return the aircraft to serviceability:
Borescope internal inspection of the engine to determine if there was any internal damage (none was found).
Replacement all damaged Twenty-Two (22) Engine Fan Blades (out of the Twenty-Eight installed). Repair of damaged engine intake components, including Acoustic intake barrel, flow path and engine rub strip and Replacement of damaged No. 3 wheel Assembly.
Immediately, required spares were ordered from manufacturers (General Electric and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries – Formerly Bombardier), however some of the spares were not standard stock items with the two manufacturers. They had to look for same on the market and go back to their suppliers who manufacture the parts. The Twenty – two Fan Blades were eventually found with a Boeing Subsidiary Company. The parts procurement took longer than usual because of challenges with their availability and logistics.
Upon receipt of required spares and other materials, repairs were completed the aircraft was returned to service on 18 May 2012. The aircraft was not returned to service earlier than it was solely due to unavailability of parts when required and the complexity of the repairs involved.
On 15th Many 2021, Engine No. 1 on Aircraft Registration 5X-KDP suffered a Bird Strike, resulting into damage of the Engine Inlet Cowl structure beyond allowable limits. The incident happened after take-off in Entebbe.
In order to avoid having two aircraft grounded at the same time, an inlet cowl was obtained from Aircraft 5X-EQU on 15 May 2021 (which was already on ground due to FOD above), and installed on 5X-KDP, replacing the bird strike damaged one. Aircraft 5X-KDP was returned to service on 15 May 2021.
Upon completion of the rest of the repairs on aircraft 5X-EQU the Engine Inlet cowl for aircraft 5X-EQU that had been installed on aircraft 5X-KDP on 15th May 2021 was installed back (hence releasing aircraft 5X-EQU back to service) on 18 May 2021 as stated above.
This resulted into withdrawing aircraft 5X-KDP from operations on 18th May 2021 – due to pending repairs on its Inlet Cowl with bird strike structural damage.
Having confirmed with our Commercial team that three remaining aircraft (reduced flight schedule and aircraft utilisation due to Covid 19 pandemic effects) could adequately cover the flight schedule we resolved to repair the cowl at Kenya Airways facilities in Nairobi as opposed to procurement of a new engine cowl. Procurement of a new Inlet Cowl would have cost about US$300,000 with a long lead-time. The repair option was the most economical in view of the foregoing.
The Cowl was handed to our Forwarding Agent who shipped it to Nairobi. After arrival in Nairobi, Kenya Revenue Authority demanded our payment of US$27,000 in customs taxes to release it. We therefore decided to return it to Entebbe and arranged for a Kenya Airways team who came with the necessary equipment to complete the repairs in Entebbe.
Logistics, dealing with Kenya Revenue Authorities, sourcing/procurement of necessary repair hardware and repairs of the Cowl took time. Repairs were completed on 8 June 2021 and installed back on Aircraft 5X-KDP.
Aircraft 5X-KDP was therefore returned to service on 8 June 2021.
Costs arising from the above repairs are covered by insurance and will be claimed accordingly.