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April 29, 2013

Passenger Enjoys Return of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner

by James Butty

Ethiopian Airlines over the weekend became the world’s first carrier to resume flying Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, since it was grounded in January with battery problems.

Stella Sabiiti, an international peace and security consultant with the African Union Commission for Peace and Security, was a passenger aboard a 787 flight from Nairobi to Addis Ababa.

Sabiiti said it was smooth and gentle. 

“It was one of the smoothest flights I have ever been on.  The takeoff was so smooth, so gentle.  Mid-air, we flew very well, very comfortably, and the landing was just as smooth as the side of a little baby,” she said.

Sabiiti said she had no idea she would be flying on the Dreamliner.

“No, I didn’t know, but the whole morning I was listening to the radio, and I was following events about the Dreamliner testing its flight, and I was thinking, ‘Well, good to those people.’ And, the news was unfolding very slowly, every half hour, every hour.  Eventually, I heard something like Ethiopian Airlines from Addis [Ababa] to Nairobi, and it took time to sink in.  Then, I realized, ‘Oh my, that’s the flight that will take me back from Nairobi to Addis, so I’ll be on the Dreamliner,’” Sabiiti said.

The Ethiopian flight was the first since regulators grounded the Dreamliner in January after two battery warnings on two separate planes.  The battery faults raised fears of a possible mid-air fire.
Butty interview with Sabiiti

Sabiiti said she offered a little prayer when she learned she would be flying on the Dreamliner.

“At first, I was thankful I would be on that flight.  Then, after a few hours, I realized I would on that flight.  So, I prayed for myself, as well as whom else would be on that flight.  And, as we were boarding, we were joking with strangers.  We didn’t know each other, but we were making jokes,” Sabiiti said.

She said the jet was being highly photographed by passengers and television crews.

Sabiiti also said she likes the inside of the jet, particularly the windows which can change colors with the push of a button.

“It’s beautiful, especially it’s wide inside, and it’s quite long and it’s high. But, what I love most about it are the windows. They change colors. You just press a button and it becomes dark blue, then you press the button and it becomes light.  Everything is so smooth, everything is so automatic.  But, I think also the air [in the cabin] is very user friendly.  You don’t feel the dryness on the plane,” Sabiiti said.