By Michelle Dunlop Herald Writer
Boeing’s 787 was returned to passenger service with a flight Saturday by Ethiopian Airlines.
Ethiopian is the first carrier to return the 787 to service since the Dreamliner was grounded Jan. 16 due to battery failures. The Federal Aviation Administration approved Boeing’s updated battery system last week and cleared the 787 to fly again Thursday.
“We are excited to resume our service with the Dreamliners,” Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said in a statement.
Gebremariam and Randy Tinseth, Boeing vice president of marketing, were aboard the flight Saturday from Addis Ababa to Nairobi.
Ray Conner, president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, thanked Ethiopian for its patience during the 787’s grounding.
“We congratulate the airline on the return to commercial service of their 787 fleet,” Conner said. “Ethiopian is a leading airline in Africa and we take pride in their achievement.”
Ethiopian was the third airline in the world to own and operate a 787. Ethiopian’s CEO said the airline was pleased with the 787’s performance during the five months Ethiopian flew the Dreamliner prior to its grounding.
Boeing’s Tinseth described Ethiopian’s 787 flight on Saturday as “truly perfect” on his blog. The flight left on time and landed early, Tinseth wrote.
“It was a fantastic, party-like atmosphere as we boarded,” Tinseth wrote. “The most powerful statement came when the airplane made a flawless flight.”
Boeing had delivered 50 787s at the time of the grounding. The company has deployed 300 employees around the world to help customers with installing the new battery system. Boeing’s CEO Jim McNerney estimated on Wednesday that the bulk of retrofits should be completed by mid-May.