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Ethiopian Airlines to Start Flying Dreamliner Again

Ground crew personnel surround Ethiopian Airlines' 787 Dreamliner upon its arrival at Arlanda airport, north of Stockholm, Sweden, September 20, 2012.
Ethiopian Airlines will start flying its Dreamliner passenger jet again to Nairobi this weekend, on April 22. The company was the third in the world, and the first in Africa, to obtain the new Boeing passenger jet last August. But, due to technical failures with the battery, Dreamliners around the world were grounded in January.

Randy Tinseth of Boeing says that technical teams improved the battery.

"We’ve added three levels of protection to the airplane. We’ve improved the battery; we’ve minimized the impact should there be a failure on the battery system; and then, finally, we’ve isolated and contained the battery such that if there is a failure the integrity of the airplane, the safety of the airplane will not be compromised," explained Tinseth.

The Dreamliner 787 is a long-range, mid-sized wide-body jet that seats between 210 and 290 passengers. It was launched in 2009 as a new generation of airplane, with the promise of using less fuel and being more ecological than any other plane. After repairing the batteries and more than 100.000 hours of testing, technicians have been sent to all carriers around the world operating the 787, to install the new batteries.

Boeing would not give comment on compensation or financial losses for the company, saying they are in a financial quiet period at the moment.

Tinseth of Boeing says the delivery of new Dreamliners this year has been delayed.

"We are in the process now of working through new delivery plans with our customers," he said. "As we came in to the year, we did have a delivery plan, and that plan was to deliver more than 60 airplanes this year. Although the timing has changed a little bit, we still expect to deliver those 60-plus airplanes in 2013."

The Federal Aviation Agency in the United States approved the battery improvement and lifted its ban. The European Aviation Safety Agency expects to copy the decision.

Eight airlines have fleets of the Dreamliner and many other airlines, such as British Airways, are still waiting for their delivery.