AVIATION

KQ planes not affected in Boeing 777s grounding – management

It has three Boeing777-300s sub-leased to Turkish Airlines.

In Summary

•Boeing has recommended grounding dozens of its 777 aircraft around the world after one of the jets suffered an engine failure, on Saturday.

•KQ recently converted a Boeing 787 plane into a freighter.

Boeing planes/
Boeing planes/
Image: REUTERS

Kenya Airways has not been affected by the ongoing grounding of Boeing 777 planes, management has confirmed, as investigations on the most recent mishap touching the model continues.

The US plane manufacturer Boeing has recommended grounding dozens of its 777 aircraft around the world after one of the jets suffered an engine failure, on Saturday.

The main focus is on 777s powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines.

This is after a plane carrying 231 passengers was forced to return to Denver airport, in the US, with United Airlines and Japan's two main airlines stopping the use of 62 of such planes. Korean Air has also grounded six.

"While the NTSB investigation is ongoing, we recommended suspending operations of the 69 in-service and 59 in-storage 777s powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines until the FAA identifies the appropriate inspection protocol,” Boeing said in a statement.

It said the company is working with regulators as they take actions while these planes are on the ground and further inspections are conducted by Pratt & Whitney.

Yesterday, KQ said its engines are powered by General Electric Company (GE Aircraft Engines), hence not affected.

"None of our planes is affected," Dennis Kashero, director corporate communications, told the Star on telephone.

Kenya Airways has three Boeing 777-300s, with a seating capacity of 400 passengers, which are among its biggest planes.

The aircrafts are currently sub-leased to Turkish Airlines (since 2016).

Plane 5Y-KZZ joined the flag carrier of Turkey as registration TC-LKA while 5Y-LZY became TC-LKB, and 5Y-KZX has been flying as TC-LKC.

There were plans by KQ, as it is known by its international code, to take back the planes in 2018 but the move was not completed, mainly on financial strains at the carrier, currently worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The planes have been flying the Turkish domestic market and trips between Istanbul and London Heathrow.

Boeing is actively monitoring recent events related to United Airlines Flight 328. While the NTSB investigation is ongoing, we recommended suspending operations of the 69 in-service and 59 in-storage 777s powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines 
Boeing

The airline recently converted its Boeing 787 plane into a freighter, a move that was necessitated with growing demand for cargo transport against reduced passenger business in the wake of the pandemic.

“It addresses the growing demand for increased cargo capacity and the demand for essential and medical goods, while supporting future commercial opportunities thereby contributing to the stimulation of the local and regional economies,” KQ management said on February 8.

Yesterday, it announced the resumption of freighter flights between Nairobi and New Delhi with its first cargo being pharmaceutical products, machinery, and general merchandise.

Its re-purposed Boeing 787 plane has been certified to carry up to 16 tonnes of cargo, potentially enabling the aircraft to reach its maximum payload while in cargo operation of 46 tonnes.

"We are hoping business will pick up," Kashero said, noting the global aviation industry remains among the worst hit sectors by the pandemic, mainly on passenger commercial flights. 

Pre-covid, the carrier had a fleet of about 36 aircrafts among them being nine Boeing 787 Dreamliners, 10-Boeing 737 aircraft and 17 Embraers.

The majority of the fleet has been dormant as the airline scaled down its operations in the wake of lock-downs and restricted movements across the globe.