Kenya Airways still looking forward to landing Boeing 787 Dreamliner
By - | January 21st 2013
By John Oyuke and Njiraini Muchira
Kenya Airways has down played the current spate of mishaps plaguing Boeing Dreamliner, of which it has nine on firm order, plus an additional four on purchase options.
The national carrier, which ordered nine of the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner to replace its ageing fleet of the 767 models, said although it is concerned about the safety scares witnessed recently, it is premature for it to comment on a fleet it does not have.
Kenya Airways spokesman, Chris Karanja, said the airline is awaiting the ongoing review of the aircraft by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the national aviation authority of the United States of America.
“Boeing has not stopped production and as such we expect them to meet the timeline for delivering the Dreamliner. We expect the first early next year,” he stated in a telephone interview.
The airline signed a purchase agreement with the Chicago-based Boeing in 2006 for supply of the nine Dreamliner, with an option of buying four more to gain from efficiencies in the new-generation aircraft.
The hi-tech Dreamliner, which made its maiden flight in October 2011 after a three-year delay, has caused panic in several flights, with cases of fire outbreaks, engine failures, a cracked cockpit windshield, brake failures, and oil leaks being reported.
The aviation regulator said last Wednesday that the 787 should not operate until the risk of battery fires is addressed. The crisis began when one of the planes owned by the Japanese airline, All Nippon Airways, was forced to make an emergency landing in Japan when a cockpit warning indicated a battery problem and a burning smell.
Find the problem
The US aviation regulator and Boeing have, however, promised to get to the bottom of the current problems with the B787-8. They have urged the public to wait for the outcome of the investigation into each and every case of fuel leaks, battery malfunctions and engine problems recorded over the past weeks before jumping to premature conclusions.
The Ethiopian Airlines, which become the first flight operator in Africa to receive the jet mid August last year, temporarily grounded its Dreamliner for inspection following a safety warning issued by the FAA. Ethiopian follows Chile’s LAN, Air India and the European Aviation Safety Agency who have all sent out grounding orders. The Ethiopian airline said that though its Dreamliner had not encountered the type of problems experienced by the other operators it had decided to pull out the aircrafts from operation as a safety measure.
“Ethiopian has decided to pull out its four Dreamliner from operation and perform the special inspection requirements mandated by the US FAA,” it said.
“The airline aims to return the Dreamliner to service as soon as possible, after full compliance with the new procedure,” the press release added.
The airline apologised to its passengers for any inconvenience the aircraft withdrawal may cause in their travel experience.
FAA has also announced a comprehensive review of the 787’s critical systems with possibility of further action pending new data and information. In addition to the continuing review of the aircraft’s design, manufacture and assembly, the agency said it also will validate that 787-8 batteries and battery system on the aircraft are in compliance with its certification.
Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney said the company is committed to supporting the FAA and finding answers as quickly as possible.
“The company is working around the clock with its customers and the various regulatory and investigative authorities. We will make available the entire resources of The Boeing Company to assist,” he said.
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