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As he flipped through the flight manual inside the flight deck of a new Boeing 777-300ER, Captain David Morgan explained how the airplane will now be able to fly certain routes faster, allowing his airline to connect distant cities like never before.
"We would be able to take 20 minutes, 30 minutes off some routes on some days," said Morgan, the chief pilot for Air New Zealand.
The 777's cruising speed hasn't changed but it has received approval from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for up to 330-minute extended operations (ETOPS). The previous standard was 180 minutes.
Capt. Morgan explained the impact with Air New Zealand's popular Auckland to Los Angeles route. On some days, because of wind conditions, Capt. Morgan could save time and fuel by veering to the south on the way to the U.S. Previously, he couldn't because the ETOPS rule required twin-engine airplanes to stay within 180 minutes of an alternate airport. That effectively created a no-fly zone over the Pacific Ocean. But that limitation has now gone away.
"What this means is that the airplane is able to fly a straighter route between the city pairs and that's good for the environment." Capt. David Morgan, Air New Zealand's Chief Pilot
The FAA authorization allows 777 customers who fly 777-300ER, 777-200LR, 777 Freighter and 777-200ER models equipped with General Electric engines to fly up to 330 minutes from an alternate airport.
"What this means is that the airplane is able to fly a straighter route between the city pairs and that's good for the environment," said Capt. David Morgan. "Less fuel is burned and less carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere. It's also good for customers because flights are potentially shorter and passengers could arrive sooner at their destinations."
The first airline to purchase the new longer ETOPS option is Air New Zealand. Air New Zealand completed the first 240-min ETOPS flight earlier this month from Los Angeles to Auckland, N.Z.
"Boeing twin-engine jets have flown more than 7 million ETOPS flights since 1985," said Larry Loftis, vice president and general manager 777 program. "This is the logical continuation of the Boeing philosophy of point-to-point service. Passengers want to minimize their overall travel time. This is one more step in that direction."
"This is the logical continuation of the Boeing philosophy of point-to-point service. Passengers want to minimize their overall travel time." Larry Loftis, Boeing 777 Vice President and General Manager
The Boeing 777 fleet has flown more than 2 million ETOPS flights since its debut in June 1995. The new FAA approval came after extensive analysis from the Boeing team, which sifted through millions of flight records to show that flights on two engines is just as safe as those on four engines.