Ethiopian leases 3 more B787’s while considering an additional order


(Posted 31st August 2013)

Information was confirmed by a source in Addis Ababa that Ethiopian Airlines, presently already having 5 B787 Dreamliners’ on their fleet and 5 more in the delivery pipeline from an order placed years ago as Boeing’s African launch partner, has committed to lease a further 3 such aircraft due for delivery in 2014.

Subsequent to receiving the information it was also learned that the Ethiopian flag carrier will order yet more of this aircraft type, going by what the airline’s CEO said during the week: ‘We like the airplane, it is our future, we are going to order more and we are going to enjoy the benefits of this airplane. If Boeing can produce them then we will add more’.

The new aircraft was dogged with a series of problems on commercial launch, and suffered a global flight ban for nearly 3 months earlier this year following repeated malfunctions of the new Lithium Ion battery systems, which in several cases overheated and in at least one case caused a fire on an aircraft which had landed a short while earlier.

You see the problems of launching a new aircraft are not new. What is new is that every flicker in the cabin lights will be tweeted or posted on Facebook or appears on aviation blogs. I have been around long enough to remember the launch of other Boeing jets, the 747, the 757, the 767 or the 777. Back in those days it was the crews who reported issues to their airline and the airline then passed the details on to Boeing. Few passengers would ever know unless they were aviation insiders with a pipeline to those who had to know. Airlines and manufacturers learn about how their aircraft perform only when these aircraft fly on a regular daily basis. Test flights are done with a small fleet of aircraft and findings are discussed and implemented. But when you have 50 or 80 or more such aircraft flying under different conditions, the inflight information and data gives you information which test flights might not have captured. Therefore, I personally think that the B787 has percentage wise not more or less issues than any other brand new aircraft type launched in the past had. I fly on the B787 because it is safe and we use it in service because we are confident that the aircraft is safe’ added the source on condition of anonymity though willing to share his insight and experience.

Elsewhere in the region is Kenya Airways expecting to take delivery of their first B787 Dreamliner by March 2014. KQ has an order of 9 such aircraft pending and several purchase options which are expected to be converted to firm orders once the new aircraft have started to arrive in Nairobi. Watch this space for regular and breaking news from Eastern Africa’s vibrant aviation sector.