January 18, 2013
Ethiopian Airlines, the first and only airliner in Africa to operate the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Thursday grounded the aircraft over safety concerns, PANA reported, quoting a statement from airline.
According to the statement, the decision followed a directive from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ground all Dreamliners.
Billed as the future for air travel, the Dreamliner offers passengers bigger windows, more space, and the ability to travel longer distances in one trip, but the long delayed Boeing product has now been grounded in the US and Europe, as well as in Japan, amid safety concerns.
The entire US fleet of the aircraft, which has been beset with a range of design and safety-related issues, has now been grounded by the US Federal Aviation Administration amid concerns that the “lithium ion batteries” on the planes are unsafe.
“Ethiopia decided to temporarily pull its B787 Dreamliners out of service for precautionary inspection,” Ethiopia’s flag carrier said in a statement.
Africa’s fastest growing airliner and the first in the continent to acquire and operate Dreamliners, Ethiopia has integrated four Boeing 787 aircraft into its fleet since the first delivery last August.
It deployed the equipment on scheduled services to Johannesburg, Washington DC, Toronto, Frankfurt, Beijing, Lusaka, and Harare.
Ethiopia is scheduled to receive its fifth Dreamliner in March 2013, while the remaining five will be phased in during 2014.
The Ethiopian airlines says its Dreamliners have not encountered the type of problems experienced by other operators but decided to ground its four aircraft “as an extra precautionary safety measure and in line with its commitment of putting safety above all … and (to) perform the special inspection requirements mandated by the US FAA,” it said.
“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.”