Ethiopian Airlines becomes final carrier to ground 787s

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Ethiopian Airlines has withdrawn its fleet of four Boeing 787s from service, following similar moves by United Airlines, Poland's LOT, Chile's LAN, Air India and Qatar Airways.

The 787 operators took the action in response to an emergency airworthiness directive issued by America's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on 16 January, and adopted by Europe's regulator EASA on 17 January.

Japan's transport ministry also issued a directive of its own on 17 January, one day after All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL) grounded their 787s.

With the latest move by Ethiopian Airlines, all 49 787s to have entered commercial service have now been grounded.

"Ethiopian Dreamliners have not encountered the type of problems such as those experienced by the other operators," the carrier notes. "However, as an extra precautionary safety measure...Ethiopian has decided to pull out its four Dreamliners from operation, and perform the special inspection requirements mandated by the US FAA."

The airline says its 787s have logged a total of 5,560 flight hours since entering service in August 2012, with the aircraft having an average daily utilisation of 14 hours.

The FAA's directive followed a spate of security scares involving the Japanese fleet in recent days, stoking fears of lithium ion battery-ignited fires. United and Qatar also encountered electrical failures in December 2012.