Air Tanzania’s new Boeing B787 pulled out of service


(Posted 18th August 2018)


When Air Tanzania’s new Boeing B787 performed its first commercial flight from Dar es Salaam via Kilimanjaro to Mwanza three weeks ago were Tanzanians wildly excited and well choreographed parrotting spread across sections of the local media.
Now, three weeks down the line, has the aircraft been pulled off the route for, what according to more critical media reports attribute to the company’s CEO as ‘maintenance on the WiFi system‘.

Aircraft of course need to undergo both scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, the latter whenever immediate technical issues arise which would make the dispatch of the plane unsafe.

Scheduled maintenance is prescribed by both manufacturer airworthiness directives as well as a legally binding maintenance schedule every airline must submit and have approved by their aviation regulatory body.

Maintenance intervals, either through continued airworthiness demands or by following the more traditional system of A, B, C and D checks, are determined by both the number of cycles the aircraft has undertaken – a cycle is taking place every time the engines are switched on or a flight performed – or by time elapsed, whether flights have been carried out or not.

Such maintenance timeframes are therefore known well in advance to the airline, allowing it to make early announcements when an aircraft needs to be serviced and will not be available for flights.

In the case at hand now however it seems that the airline was caught almost by surprise and had accepted bookings based on the availability of the larger jet aircraft before reality dawned on management that, with the B787 unavailable they needed to make contingency plans to uplift passengers with the smaller Bombardier Q400 planes and swiftly add additional flights to honour bookings.

Social media in Tanzania went viral when the situation unfolded, portraying the ATCL management as inept if not outright misleading the public, eventually prompting the CEO to make some feeble comments to a local newspaper about the situation.

With flights to Bujumbura and Entebbe due to be launched next week, for which the airline had earlier indicated they would initially also use the Boeing B787 to showcase the new aircraft to regional markets, all eyes will be on ATCL to see if the new aircraft will indeed be back in service, or if there are more words to be eaten by management as has often been the case in the past.

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