Qatar Airways to resume Dreamliner service

Qatar Airways will resume its Dreamliner service between Doha and Dubai from Thursday, it was announced today.

The news comes just two days after Ethiopian Airlines became the first carrier to operate a commercial Boeing 787 flight since regulators grounded all 50 planes in January after batteries overheated on two aircraft.

The Ethiopian flight took off from Addis Ababa on Saturday at 0945 local time and landed in Nairobi, Kenya, two hours later.

Qatar will initially operate Boeing 787 aircraft on its Doha to Dubai service four times daily; this is due to increase to six to seven daily flights by mid-May.

Qatar Dreamliner services between Doha and London Heathrow are due to resume from May 15.

Last week, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a formal directive lifting the ban on Dreamliners (see online news, April 26).

According to Thursday’s ruling, airlines can begin using 787s after they modify the lithium-ion battery system. The FAA will be closely monitoring the modification and inspecting the work.

The modified batteries are now housed in a stainless steel box and will run at a much cooler temperature.

There is also a ventilation pipe that leads directly from the box to the outside of the plane, meaning that in the event of any fire, the remainder of the aircraft would be unaffected by smoke.

The three-month grounding of the Dreamliner began in mid-January due to the faulty battery system causing problems in two different planes operated by Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airlines (ANA) (see online story, January 2013).

As a result, the FAA issued an emergency airworthiness directive requiring all Dreamliners to “temporarily cease operations”. The directive was also endorsed by the European Aviation Safety Agency.

Airlines including Air India, Qatar Airways and United Airlines then postponed new routes where they had originally planned to deploy the B787; while other airlines such as Japan Airlines, Air Nippon and Air India have used alternative aircraft for their 787 services.

There are currently 50 Dreamliners operated by airlines around the world. All are expected to have been modified by mid-May.

A further 840 of the aircraft are on order and will come with the revamped battery system.

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Report by Graham Smith

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