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Ethiopia breaks Dreamliner drought

27 April 2013, 13:18

Addis Ababa - An Ethiopian Airlines Dreamliner jet took off on Saturday on a commercial flight, becoming the first carrier to resume flying the Boeing 787s that were grounded worldwide three months ago due to battery problems.

The flight took off from Addis Abbaba and headed to Nairobi, according to an AFP journalist.

"I am very happy to see the airplane is back to the air now and I am very happy also we are the first one," Ethiopian Airlines CEO, Tewolde Gebremariam told journalists ahead of take-off.

The US Federal Aviation Authority on Thursday issued formal approval of Boeing's 787 battery fix, clearing the way for the troubled aircraft to fly again after the prolonged grounding.

The directive from the FAA to ground the 50 Dreamliners in operation worldwide came after a series of safety scares with the aircraft, including an emergency landing by Japan's All Nippon Airways in January following a battery malfunction.

Ethiopian Airlines has four Dreamliners, which Tewolde said would all resume service in the coming weeks after being retrofitted with new batteries.

"This is the first airplane which has completed the work," he told reporters, adding that work has started on the company's other three 787s.

Each of the aircraft are set to receive a new battery, which is encased, allowing the plane to continue flying in the event of a malfunction.

"We've fixed the battery, we've now contained the battery, so for some chance that there is a failure with the battery, it's contained, it's isolated, the airplane will be able to continue flying," Boeing's vice president of marketing for commercial airplanes, Randy Tinseth, told AFP at the airport.

Despite the previous safety scares with the aircraft, he said customers have no reason to feel nervous about flying the Dreamliner.



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