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May 29, 2024
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The FAA has approved additional extended operations (ETOPS) for the Boeing 787. The move allows 787s to be operated up to 330 minutes from a landing field.  This is a serious upgrade in confidence in the aircraft.  To date the 787 has had 180 minute ETOPS.  For airline operators this additional time means a sharp rise in terms of what can be done with a 787.  ETOPS 180 minute restrictions mean a twin engined aircraft may not fly further than 180 minutes (on a single engine) from a diversionary or emergency airfield.

For example, look at a long over water leg such as Perth to Johannesburg.  It may only be 5,173 miles,  but with 180 minutes ETOPS, the route cannot be performed by a 787 and abide by FAA rules.  The dark blue section shows areas where the airplane would be outside its 180 minute box.

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By increasing the ETOPS to 330 minutes and looking at the same route, it is apparent what an impact this new rule has.  A 787 would have no problem serving the route in terms of range, but would run into the FAA restriction (if it applied).   The 777 already has 330 minute ETOPS.

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As big twins prove their engines ever more reliable, ETOPS restrictions have been eased.  There are some who will remember Pan Am’s  A310s flying from Europe taking much longer to cross the Atlantic  because they had to fly a more circular route to stay within the ETOPS restrictions in force at the time.  For many airlines this new rule is most convenient.  It also makes the 787 that much more attractive.

10 thoughts on “Boeing 787 Gets 330-Minute ETOPS Certification

  1. Complacency is the word… The ETOPS rules have become meaningless.

    Five and a half hours on one engine is a long and lonely time

    How long before the unthinkable happens?

  2. Hi,

    I would like to confirm if this ETOPS cert is only for one type of engine, or the cert would include the 2 manufacturers.

    Thanks for the information

  3. I wonder how many real-world routes would profit from removing the 180 limit, and therefore how much this “more attractive” really pans out.

    Personally, I don’t worry too much about a one engine emergency. Other issues (not counting non-technical ones here), like on-board fire, or fuel starvation (leaks) scare me more. Especially 5 hours out.

  4. Roberto – no engine was specified in the PR yesterday. We assume, therefore, both are covered by this new rule.

  5. Roberto – we can confirm – the new ETOPS covers both engines, and while it applies to only US airlines under FAA jurisdiction, other regulatory agencies often follow the FAA’s guidelines.

  6. Interesting in light of the fact that the NTSB just came out that the LiIon battery was not tested properly (I do see some confusion in that report as it seems to be dated and not updated in that Boeing put a whole bunch of patches on the system and used the RTC to come up with approach including a lot more battery testing which seems to have been the root cause though application (use) of that type battery continues to be plain nuts.

    I am glad I no longer fly long distances over water. I like 4 engines though in reality as noted, its a comfort thing not a statistical thing. There have been a number of 777 diversions to Aleutian airports, bad place to try to land on one engine that has been stressed big time.

    Bad piloting or hi-jacking has cost more aircraft by far than engine loss (actually I don’t remember an engine loss cause other than Sullenbrugs bird and that was bird ingestion, not likely at 40k feet over the ocean!)

    I do think the new aircraft with their far more complex systems nee far more of a shakeout period than they have been given. I would suggest 5 years before you get anything past 180 minutes.

  7. Flight from Santiago Chile to Auckland ( New Zealand ) takes about 13 hours, this means that at the middle, a 390 minutes ETOPS should be needed. Boeings 787 are Flying this route. How this can be allowed with only 330 minutes approved?

  8. There are worse routes. If you look at Perth to Buenos Aires or Auckland to Johannesburg then the great circle routes take you straight across Antarctica. In those cases it’s a long long lonely flight across the southern oceans on one engine or a forced landing on the ice. The pilots would have to go for the six and a half hours over ocean (I used ETOPS 330 in the map settings) but losing the second engine would put you in MH370 territory.
    http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=PER-EZE&MP=polar&DU=mi&E=330

  9. Sorry to dredge this up. Eastern Air Lines 855 lost all three but managed to get the first one they shutdown started again to make a one engine landing at Miami. All three engines had lost all oil and the remaining engine didn’t have the thrust to taxi. The cause was bad maintenance. Do you mean an engine failure of a turbine that caused loss of the aircraft? There have been several. Leaving out single engine aircraft. As the fleets age the chances of getting high energy failures increase. Most recently the GE90 on a British Airways 777 in Las Vegas. CF6s and Trents have had uncontained failures too.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turbine_engine_failure
    http://www.ntsb.gov/news/press-releases/Pages/Four_Recent_Uncontained_Engine_Failure_Events_Prompt_NTSB_to_Issue_Urgent_Safety_Recommendations_to_FAA.aspx

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