By Natalia Drozdiak and Regan Doherty
FRANKFURT/DOHA, July 31 A Qatar Airways 787
Dreamliner grounded last week amid reports of a problem with an
electrical panel in the aircraft has resumed flying, the airline
said on Wednesday.
The jet, known as A7-BCB, landed in Frankfurt 20 minutes
behind schedule at 2:00 pm (1200 GMT) after an almost six-hour
flight from Doha, and passengers reported a normal flight.
"Everything was totally fine except for the lateness. They
didn't tell us anything about any technical problems," said an
elderly female passenger, who declined to give her name.
"They just said the lateness was due to other planes and
that this plane is the best of its kind out there."
Attention has focused on the fuel-saving aircraft's
unusually long 10-day downtime after a string of technical
glitches affecting Boeing's state-of-the-art passenger jet.
Last week, Qatar Airways said the jet was out of service for
what it described as a "minor" technical issue. It said the
aircraft had not caught fire.
Two people familiar with the matter, asking not to be
identified, said smoke had been reported near an electrical
compartment, while the jet was on the ground in Doha.
A fire in a similar electrical bay during a test flight in
2010 prompted an emergency landing and caused "substantial
damage" to the aircraft, according to the U.S. Federal Aviation
In a statement on Wednesday, Qatar Airways said a delay in
shipping a replacement part from Boeing "caused an extended
grounding" of the Dreamliner, one of six in its fleet.
The airline did not say what part was needed or what problem
occurred, but stressed it was committed to safe operations.
"Qatar Airways takes all matters affecting the safety of its
passengers seriously," it said.
Qatar Airways said several replacement parts were required
for the repair. After the delayed part arrived, the 787 needed
three days of "post-assembly and testing" before resuming
service, the airline added.
The same aircraft was returning to Qatar's capital late on
Wednesday after picking up passengers in Frankfurt, having
resumed commercial operations for the first time since July 21.
Another passenger on the inbound Doha-Frankfurt flight, a
man in his mid-50s, said he was not concerned about the
aircraft's recent technical problems.
"They told us it came out of the hangar this morning, but
that's all," he told Reuters.
The 787, Boeing's newest and most advanced aircraft, uses a
powerful electrical system instead of the heavy hydraulic and
pneumatic equipment used on traditional jetliners.
The weight savings contribute to the jet's 20 percent fuel
savings. But the 787 has suffered numerous electrical problems
since its first flight in December 2009.
In January of 2013, regulators grounded the plane after
lithium-ion batteries that provide backup power caught fire on
two 787s within two weeks. Boeing redesigned the battery system,
including a heavy steel box to contain fire, and the jetliner
was allowed to return to service in April.
On July 12, fire broke out on an Ethiopian Airlines 787 at
London's Heathrow airport on July 12, triggering inspections of
beacons used to locate aircraft in the event of a crash.
Boeing said last week it stands by the integrity of the 787,
which was cleared as safe to fly after the battery grounding.
Boeing was not immediately available to comment on
Wednesday's statement from Qatar Airways.