In an embarrassing aerospace blunder that is likely to turn African airspace authorities into the butt of endless jokes, just this week, an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 plane flying from Addis Ababa into Zambia landed into the wrong airport in Ndola, Zambia.
The mortifying incident was compounded by the fact that the Ethiopian Airlines plane landed in an airport still under construction.
The cargo plane touched down on Sunday at the not-yet-finished airport in Zambia’s northern Copperbelt province, which is currently served by the Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport, some 15 kilometers (9 miles) away.
“When he was about to land he was communicating with the radar, and they told him: ‘We can’t see you,'” the Transport Ministry’s permanent secretary, Misheck Lungu said. He went on to further say, “So he used his sight as he had no control and landed at an airport still under construction.”
Lungu added that no damage had been incurred and said investigators would be releasing a “comprehensive report.”
Zambia is Africa’s second-largest copper producer, with the majority of the mineral located in the Copperbelt region.
The Chinese-built airport in the Copperbelt was supposed to open in mid-2020, but was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Once finished, the $397 million (€336 million) airport will have a greater carrying capacity than its predecessor, with upgraded amenities and 3,500 meters (3,827 yards) of runway.
Cargo flights have helped Ethiopian Airlines remain financially viable during the pandemic, with Africa’s largest carrier using dozens of passenger planes as freight transporters.
In recent times, Ethiopian Airlines has had a tragic history, with the plane crash which involved a Boeing plane still fresh in people’s minds.
That incident has however, since been discovered to have been the manufacturer’s fault, with Boeing expected to pay billions of dollars in compensation.
Though there is no mention of the incident involving the landing blunder on its Twitter page, Ethiopian Airlines confirmed that the episode had taken place and said an investigation, in cooperation with Zambian authorities, was already underway.