787 Back in the Air

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Flights on two different continents put the 787 back in the air over the weekend, much to the delight of Boeing.

On Saturday, Ethiopian Airlines fulfilled a promise made last week to resume commercial services with a flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi. (The aircraft is shown here after landing in Nairobi).

Flight 801 took off on schedule and landed ahead of schedule in a party-like atmosphere and without incident, says Boeing Vice President Randy Tinseth, the company’s chief marketer.

Ethiopian is Boeing's first customer in Africa for the 787. It has received four.

Then on Sunday (Japan time), All Nippon Airways, which launched the composite, twin-engine jet nine years ago, conducted a nearly two-hour proving flight on the first of its 17 787-8s to be outfitted with new battery packs from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport with ANA and Boeing executives aboard.

It will be awhile before ANA may return the aircraft to revenue service, however. It was a revised Technical Circular Director from the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau that permitted the proving flight.

The carrier says it will take until the end of May to install new batteries, battery chargers, battery containment boxes and venting systems in the remaining aircraft in its fleet.

After that, each updated aircraft will undergo a proving flight. Then batteries that “have been in use for a specified period of time,” a sample of batteries will be removed and inspected “to verify that the battery improvements are effective.”

Cockpit crews take 230 hours of “extensive hands-on flight training with actual aircraft” and use flight simulators before operating commercial flights.

Only then will ANA announce its return-to-service flight schedule. It is not expected until June.

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