Two Ethiopian Boeing 737s attempt landing at unfinished Zambian airport

Mike Fuchslocher / Shutterstock

An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 attempted landing at an unfinished airport in Ndola, Zambia, two hours after another one landed and took off again.

Both incidents occurred on April 4, 2021. At least one of them was confirmed by Ethiopian Airlines. 

At 6:36 AM Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800 (ET-AYL) took off from Addis Ababa (ADD) on a freight flight to Ndola Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport (NDO). Approximately at 8:30 the aircraft approached Copperbelt International Airport, which is a new airport being built several kilometers east of Ndola.

The aircraft landed on the unfinished airstrip and taxied to the apron, before entering the runway via the next taxiway and taking off. According to The Aviation Herald, the runway had markings indicating that it is closed, but those markings were faint and might have been unnoticed by the pilots. A video of the incident was filmed by a construction worker, indicating that the construction crew was signaling the aircraft.

Approximately two and a half hours later another Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800 (ET-AQP) was following the same route, and attempted to land at Copperbelt International Airport. According to local media, the aircraft aborted the landing on final approach, and landed at NDO at 12.32 PM. 

On April 6 Ethiopian Airlines issued a statement confirming that tie incident took place, and that an investigation has been launched.

Copperbelt International Airport was expected to be opened in mid-2020, yet its completion was delayed due to COVID-19 pandemic. It has the same runway orientation as the NDO, a fact which, according to Ethiopian Airlines statement, could have contributed to the pilot’s mistake

Related Posts


Stay updated on aviation and aerospace - subscribe to our newsletter!