Ethiopia flies first Dreamliner since grounding
By RODNEY MUHUMUZA Associated Press April 27, 2013 10:56AM
Ethiopian Airliner 787 Dreamliner prepare to take off from Addis Ababa, Saturday, April 27, 2013. An Ethiopian Airlines 787 Dreamliner flew from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, the first commercial flight by the Boeing aircraft since all 787s were grounded in January. The 50 planes around the world were grounded due to battery malfunctions that saw one 787 catch fire in the US. Over the past week teams of Boeing engineers have been fitting new batteries to the aircraft. This was after aviation authorities approved the revamped battery design. (AP Photo/Elias Asmare)
Updated: April 27, 2013 11:02AM
KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — A Boeing 787 operated by Ethiopian Airlines flew from Ethiopia to Kenya’s capital Saturday, the first commercial flight since air safety authorities grounded the Dreamliners after incidents with smoldering batteries on two different planes in January.
The Boeing 787 passenger jet arrived in Nairobi on Saturday afternoon after a two-hour trip from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, according to the Kenya airport website. The Dreamliner arrived at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 12:40 p.m. local time, according to the Kenya Airports Authority.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has approved Boeing’s redesigned battery system, which the company says sharply reduces the risk of fire.
Richard J. Horigan, a Boeing engineer, told reporters in Nairobi this week that all potential causes of battery fire have been eliminated with the new system. But he noted that the root cause of smoldering batteries experienced by the two different 787s may never be known because the evidence was destroyed by heat.
There are 50 Dreamliners in service around the world. Once the FAA approves the fix on individual planes, airlines can start flying them again. United Airlines, the only U.S. airline with the planes, moved one of its six 787s to a Boeing facility in San Antonio, Texas, on Tuesday so it can get the battery fixed. Neither of the battery incidents involved a United jet.
Boeing said Wednesday that deliveries of the 787 should resume in early May.