Boeing 787 Dreamliner returns to service

First commercial flight since air safety authorities grounded aircraft after incidents with smouldering batteries

Ethiopian Airlines has become the first airline to resume commercial flights on Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner after the aircraft was grounded worldwide after two incidents involving their batteries. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Ethiopian Airlines has become the first airline to resume commercial flights on Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner after the aircraft was grounded worldwide after two incidents involving their batteries. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Sat, Apr 27, 2013, 13:38

A Boeing 787 operated by Ethiopian Airlines flew from Ethiopia to Kenya’s capital today, the first commercial flight since air safety authorities grounded the Dreamliners after incidents with smouldering batteries on two different planes in January.

The Boeing 787 passenger jet arrived in Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport this afternoon after a two-hour trip from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, according to the Kenya airport website.

The US Federal Aviation Administration has approved Boeing’s redesigned battery system, which the company says sharply reduces the risk of fire.

Richard J Horigan, a Boeing engineer, told reporters in Nairobi this week that all potential causes of battery fire have been eliminated with the new system. But he noted that the root cause of smouldering batteries experienced by the two different 787s may never be known because the evidence was destroyed by heat.

There are 50 Dreamliners in service around the world. Once the FAA approves the fix on individual planes, airlines can start flying them again. United Airlines, the only US airline with the planes, moved one of its six 787s to a Boeing facility in San Antonio, Texas, on Tuesday so it can get the battery fixed. Neither of the battery incidents involved a United jet.

Boeing said on Wednesday that deliveries of the 787 should resume in early May.

AP