News / Africa

Ethiopian Airlines First to Fly Dreamliner Since Grounding

Ethiopian Airliner 787 Dreamliner prepare to take off from Addis Ababa, April 27, 2013.
Ethiopian Airliner 787 Dreamliner prepare to take off from Addis Ababa, April 27, 2013.
Reuters
Ethiopian Airlines on Saturday became the world's first carrier to resume flying Boeing Co.'s 787 Dreamliner passenger jets, landing the first commercial flight since the global fleet was grounded three months ago following incidents of overheating in the batteries providing auxiliary power.

The flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi was the first since regulators grounded all Dreamliners on Jan. 16 after two lithium-ion battery meltdowns that occurred on two jets with other airlines within two weeks that month.

U.S. regulators approved a new battery design last week, clearing the way for installation and a resumption of Dreamliner flights by airlines around the world.

The battery faults raised fears of a possible mid-air fire, drawing worldwide attention to Boeing and denting the reputation of its flagship plane.

"I wasn't aware that I was going to be on the 787 Dreamliner until on my way to the airport. It was a good service and the flight was pleasant," said Senait Mekonnen, an Ethiopian restaurateur, moments after the plane landed.

The fully booked flight arrived at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport just after 9.30 GMT, with passengers giving the crew a round of applause upon landing.

The grounding of the Dreamliner fleet has cost Boeing an estimated $600 million, halted deliveries of the aircraft and forced some airlines to lease alternative planes.

The Dreamliner cost an estimated $20 billion to develop and represents a quantum leap forward in design, offering a 20 percent reduction in fuel burn and added cabin comforts such as higher humidity, larger windows and modern styling.

But by sparking fears of a dangerous mid-air fire, the battery problems drew worldwide attention to both aircraft safety and the technology behind lithium-ion batteries, which are widely used in laptops, mobile phones, electric cars and other products.

The scrutiny turned from what are often called normal "teething pains" for a new plane into a serious crisis for Boeing. As the plane goes back into service, what caused the fire is still unknown.

The battery that overheated on a parked Japan Airlines 787 in Boston caught fire and burned for more than hour before firefighters put it out. The plane was on the ground and empty. The second incident, which has not officially been termed a fire, occurred during a flight in Japan.

An odor of smoke in the cabin and warnings in the cockpit prompted the All Nippon Airways pilots to make an emergency landing and evacuate the aircraft. Boeing said both incidents showed its safeguards had worked.

Cause not yet found

After the second incident, airlines were swiftly barred from flying the 250-seat aircraft, which carries a list price of $207 million. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) launched a full-scale investigation to find the root cause of the Boston fire and examine the process by which the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved Boeing's design.

The NTSB has not yet found the cause, and after hearings last week the investigation continues.

The last time an airliner fleet was grounded was more than a
 generation ago, when the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration banned the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 jet in 1979 after a crash in Chicago killed 273 people.

Boeing spent thousands of hours and millions of dollars redesigning the battery system, drawing on its vast staff of engineers and experts in everything from fighter planes to rockets and satellites.

The changes include a revamped battery less prone to heat build-up, a redesigned charger and a stainless-steel enclosure capable of withstanding an explosion and equipped with a metal exhaust tube to vent fumes and gases outside the jet, if the battery overheats.

International airlines have been slowly putting the Dreamliner back into their schedules. United Airlines, the only U.S. carrier with the jet, said it will begin commercial flights on May 31. All Nippon Airways plans to conduct its first test flight of the revamped 787 on Sunday but has yet to decide when to resume passenger flights.

Ethiopian Airlines previously said its fleet did not suffer any of the technical glitches experienced by other Dreamliner jets, though it withdrew the planes from service to undergo the changes required by the FAA.

You May Like

Mugabe Dismisses Male-Female Equality

'It is not possible that women can be at par with men' incoming African Union president declares on eve of summit More

Somali Terror Suspect's Light Sentence Raises Questions

Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, could have spent 15 years in prison but judge instead sentenced him to a halfway house, and a program to try to integrate him back into the community More

Video Kobani Ravaged Following Kurdish Ouster of IS Militants

Even so, hundreds of refugees sheltering in Turkey seek to return; Kurdish forces hold some back, saying fighting continues More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid