The 41 passengers on board a Dash 8-300 that was struck by lightning and pummeled by hailstones had a reason to celebrate on Monday after their pilot safely landed the ill-fated plane in Lusaka, Zambia.
The plane which belongs to the local airline, Proflight, was cruising at about 19,000ft (6.3km) above sea level when lighting and hailstones damaged its nose cone.
“The aircraft managed to get out of the thunderstorm cell and landed safely in Lusaka. There were no injuries, the aircraft, however, received substantial damage possibly beyond repair,” theÂ Aviation HeraldÂ reported.
One passenger said they had just begun their descent towards Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, Lusaka, when lightning struck. Then, she added, the aircraft “dropped like a stone”.
The aircraft was on its way from the tourist town of Livingstone.
Proflight manager Phil Lemba toldÂ Daily Mail,Â a local newspaper, that the plane was hit by lightning around 15:20 hours.
“Because of the design of the plane, there was not much damage to the plane. The aircraft structure has static lightning dispersers,” Lemba said.
The airline, in a statement, reported the damage caused by the hailstorm was significant.
“As a result of the incident, the aircraft will be out of service until it undergoes thorough maintenance and is certified to fly again. In the meantime, Proflight is working closely with its operations and safety departments to minimize disruption to schedules,” read part of the statement.
“We commend Captain Walter Nhliziyo and his crew for their professionalism in dealing with the incident in the manner in which they are trained to do, and thank the passengers who were on board for their support,” the statement adds.
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