Thursday, January 17, 2013

► ETHIOPIA: Ethiopian said to have grounded its 787 fleet following FAA directive.

Ethiopian Airlines
Despite recently trumpeting its contentment at "the performance of their Dreamliners", labelling them "highly capable and safe aircraft", Ethiopian Airlines (ET), too, appears to have joined the growing list of Dreamliner operators to have grounded the type following recent problems with the aircraft's Lithium Ion battery.

Ethiopian 787
Ethiopian Airlines 787 (LockOnAv)
According to CH-Aviation, Ethiopian temporarily suspended 787 scheduled ops effective 17 January with three of their four Dreamliners having arrived at Addis Ababa's Bole International airport with a fourth, set to have arrived back on the evening of 16 January. ET has now allocated different aircraft for flights scheduled to operate with B787 aircraft today.

Later on today, a joint meeting between senior officials of the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority and Ethiopian Airlines senior managers held in Addis Ababa officially confirmed the grounding of the carrier's 787 fleet.

In a press release issued 15 January, Tewolde Gebremariam, CEO of Ethiopian took an understanding tone in light of potential technical delays:
"However, like any new technology aircraft entering into service, it is normal to encounter some minor bugs here and there, which are causing some technical delays in departures as extra time is needed to correct them", he added.

In October 2012, Ethiopian encountered its first technical glitch with the 787 which necessitated the replacement of one of its General Electric (GEnx-1B64) engines which had experienced problems with its hydraulics and oil leakage.

A directive issued on Wednesay by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded all Boeing's US based 787s following an emergency landing on 16 January by one of Japan's All Nippon Airways (NH) 787s (MSN 34486 | JA804A), caused by the in-flight leakage of the aircraft's Lithium ion battery's caustic electrolytes in the forward E/E bay.

Before further flight, operators of U.S.-registered, Boeing 787 aircraft must demonstrate to the FAA that the batteries are safe.