An early morning departure at 4:45 on ET’s last remaining 762. Business class features the older style grey leather seats, but they are decently comfy for a 3 hour flight. ET’s new 763s have much nicer seats, but at least I get the benefit of flying on the last of its kind. The sun rises shortly after departure as we cruise down the coasts of Oman and Yemen. Unfortunately the windows are very scratched, hindering good quality photographs of the beautiful scenery. A big hot breakfast is served, more European in style on tastefully decorated china, by a charming and hospitable crew. Inflight entertainment options are a bit limited due to the aircraft’s age, with overhead TV screens in all classes and old style radio dials. The best form of entertainment comes at the time of the scenic approach into Addis Ababa, flying over spectacular mountains, lush highlands and valleys, sprinkled with little villages, a very archaic landscape indeed. While ADD still lies at a high altitude of 7,656 feet, it is surrounded by higher mountains, thus a bit of a circling approach before we land from the south. As we touch down at Bole Airport and taxi to an apron position, the ramp is busy with ET’s morning peak.
The morning air is crisp as we descend the stairs, and a small bus takes the business class passengers to the terminal, where we are quickly issued the boarding passes for the connecting flight. The rather new terminal is spacious and airy and offers a good selection of interesting shops with local products. It is definitely a good transit airport when your travels take you to remote parts of Africa, with Ethiopian giving you the lion’s share of Africa, as their slogan goes.
Boarding is a few minutes late. The aircraft interior has been updated with the new light blue fabric over the old seats, which, together with the older beige cabin trimmings, is a bit of an odd contrast. Perhaps the older dark red seat colors were better fitting, and reflecting the warm, earthen colors of Ethiopia. At this point, I notice that a B757 is also not the newest aircraft anymore. Again, only overhead TV and old-skool radio, but including a nice choice of local music. Some interesting sights during taxiing: a group of maybe 20 people mowing the grass between the taxiways without any big machinery and bundling it by hand.
Secondly, we pass by ET’s large maintenance area which attracts visitors from all over the region, including Silverback DC-8, Air Gabon 767, and various 727, 737 and 707s in various conditions.
Most of the trip it will be cloudy underneath, with occasional glances of the dense forests below as we cruise across Central Africa. Lunch of good quality is served during the flight, maybe not as sophisticated as on the leading airlines, but certainly not bad at all. Again, the crew does all it takes to keep the passengers happy. Maybe some 3 hours into the flight, I notice a Star Airlines A330-200 passing us on a lower flight level, maybe 2,000 feet below, but considerably faster. What’s more interesting, the aircraft is flying for Ethiopian to Lagos, and when we took of from ADD, it was just being pushed back, so it had taken off some 10 minutes after us and now caught up.
We reach the Atlantic Coast over Nigeria and continue to fly parallel to it, across Benin and Togo, when we begin our descent into Accra. Over a richly green landscape with reddish earth, we approach Accra's Kotoka Airport from the north, the 5 hour flight coming to an end. The airport is not too busy, with just the Ghana International 757 parked, but we taxi past the stored Ghana DC-10 and DC-9, as well as Antrak DC-9s and unmarked F27s. The aircraft parks near the terminal and a bus takes us the short distance to the arrival area.
As we board the aircraft, the sky is turning black towards the north. Until then, departures were towards the south, and a Lufthansa A330-300 is appearing out of the black and landing as we taxi out for departure. It is starting to rain, and well before sunset, getting very dark as the clouds are now almost overhead.
We turn onto the runway, shortly hold, then full throttle is applied and the aircraft starts to accelerate. A few seconds later, the aircraft begins to shudder and I notice on the nosegear camera that the aircraft is drifting away from the centerline to the left. Momentarily, the engines are throttled back to idle and the aircraft stops gaining speed, rolling down the runway and getting back towards the centerline. As we reach the next exit and head for the ramp, the captain comes on the PA and explains what happened: Because of the approaching storm, the wind had started to shift and one of the engines stalled as a windgust suddenly came from behind. He announces he would have the engine checked to ensure it had not sustained any damage. So we sit on the ramp while outside a heavy downpour drenches the apron as night falls. A few local flights come and go, such as Antrak ATR 42 and an Air Senegal 737-700, as well as the KLM 777.
We have to refuel as well, and with sitting out the weather and making sure the runway is not too deep in water, some two hours pass until we head out for departure again, this time in opposite direction. Praise to the EK crew for handling this incident professionally! The rest of the flight, taking us on a circular route over Africa, as far north as Libya and Egypt, is uneventful, and a beautiful sunrise greets us over the deserts in Saudi-Arabia before we head out over the Gulf.
Flying across Africa is as comfortable as anywhere these days, but the weather can keep the game alive!
[Edited 2007-06-14 15:52:26]
Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been...
Soups From Ghana, joined Jun 2004, 3437 posts, RR: 15 Reply 8, posted (5 years 11 months 2 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 4590 times:
I flew few month back on the 757 of ET ACC-LFW-ADD and the plane was a very old and looked like a typical african airline. however the 767 ADD-DEL-PEK was fantastic.
Boarding in ADD was a nightmare as well
Next destinations, Suarabaya, beirut, paris, Accra