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Ethiopian Airlines grounds Boeing 787s as precaution
BY KIRUBEL TADESSE
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia -- Ethiopian Airlines on Thursday grounded its four Boeing 787 Dreamliners following a decision by the Federal Aviation Administration to take the planes out of service in the United States because of a risk of fire from its lithium batteries.
The Ethiopian airline said its 787s have not encountered any of the problems experienced by other airlines' Dreamliners, but that it would ground its new Boeings "for precautionary inspection," the company said in a statement to The Associated Press.
The FAA on Wednesday grounded Boeing's newest and most technologically advanced jetliner until the risk of battery fires is resolved. That order applied only to the six Dreamliners operated by United Airlines, the lone U.S. carrier with 787s. But the order placed other airlines and civil aviation authorities under pressure to follow suit.
Earlier this week Ethiopian Airlines announced that it had successfully integrated its four 787 aircraft into its fleet with record-length flights.
Ethiopian Air said it had become the only carrier in the world to reach the design range capabilities of the Dreamliners by flying the aircraft from Washington D.C. to Addis Ababa, a distance of 11,500 kilometers (7,145 miles), Ethiopian Air's longest-ever flight.
Ethiopian is the first African and the third airline in the world to operate the Dreamliner.
The 787 is the first airliner to make extensive use of lithium-ion batteries to help power its energy-hungry electrical systems. The batteries charge faster and can be better molded to space-saving shapes compared with other airplane batteries. But the batteries have been prone to catching fire.
Ethiopian Temporarily Pulls the 787 out of Service for Precautionary Inspection per US FAA Directive -
17 January, 2013
Ethiopian Airlines Press Release
Following the directive of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Ethiopian has decided to temporarily pull its B787 Dreamliners out of service for precautionary inspection on Thursday, January 17, 2013.
The US FAA issued a directive on January 16, 2013 that mandates operators to perform special inspection requirements on the Dreamliner airplane battery system in accordance with a method approved by it. This directive was issued following recent incidents that occurred on Dreamliner airplanes operated by two other airlines.
Ethiopian Dreamliners have not encountered the type of problems such as those experienced by the other operators. However, as an extra precautionary safety measure and in line with its commitment of putting safety above all else, Ethiopian has decided to pull out its four Dreamliners from operation and perform the special inspection requirements mandated by the US FAA.
The airline has been operating the Dreamliner since mid-August last year. Ethiopian Dreamliners have been performing well in the five months service logging record length of non-stop flights and record high daily aircraft utilization in the industry. Since it first received the Dreamliner, Ethiopian has logged 5,560 flight hours with average daily aircraft utilization of 14 hours.
Ethiopian is working closely with Boeing to comply with the US FAA approved special inspection procedure on the battery system and perform the maintenance as per the directive. The airline aims to return the Dreamliners to service as soon as possible, after full compliance with the new procedure.
Ethiopian would like to apologize to its esteemed passengers for any inconvenience this may cause in their travel experience.
Ethiopian Airlines, the fastest growing airline in Africa, made its maiden international flight to Cairo in 1946 and now the Airline provides dependable services to 70 international destinations spanning four continents.
Ethiopian is proud to be a Star Alliance Member. The Star Alliance network is the leading global airline network offering customers convenient worldwide reach and a smoother travel experience. The Star Alliance network offers more than 21,555 daily flights to 1,356 airports in 193 countries.
Ethiopian is a multi-award winner for its commitment and contributions towards the development and growth of the African aviation industry and in recognition of its distinguished long-haul operations enhanced by the introduction of new routes and products. Recently, Ethiopian won Gold in the African Airline of the Year 2011/2012 Awards organized by the African Aviation News Portal. Ethiopian also received the 2011 AFRAA award for being consistently profitable over the years and has won the "AFRICAN CARGO AIRLINE OF THE YEAR 2011 Award" for its excellence in air cargo. Ethiopian also won the 2012 "African Airline of the Year Award" from Air Transport Quarterly Magazine.
With its acquisition of and firm orders for several new modern fleet, the airline is well positioned to pursue aggressively the implementation of its Vision 2025 strategic plan to become the leading aviation group in Africa.
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