|On January 16, 2007, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published comprehensive new regulations governing extended operations (ETOPS), which are flight operations on routes that at some point take an airplane far from an airport. This regulatory updating codifies current FAA policy, industry best practices and recommendations, and international standards designed to ensure that long-range flights will continue to operate safely.|
|SIGNIFICANT CHANGES COME TO ETOPS WITH THIS NEW RULE, WHICH ESTABLISHES OPERATOR AND AIRPLANE REQUIREMENTS FOR EXTENDED OPERATIONS.||by Capt. Chester L. "Chet" Ekstrand,
Vice President, Regulatory Affairs;
Mohan Pandey, Director, Operational Regulatory Affairs;
and Jay Spenser, ETOPS Communications
The new U.S. ETOPS rule builds further on the success of ETOPS, which is the state-of-the-art in intercontinental air travel. More than 5.5 million ETOPS twinjet flights have been logged worldwide since 1985, and every day some 143 operators perform 1,750 more. These operations set the highest standard for safe, reliable long-range flying.
Significant changes come to ETOPS with this new rule, which updates the requirements for two-engine extended operations and provides a framework under which air carrier operators may safely fly approved twinjets beyond 180 minutes of an airport. As before, ETOPS applies when the twinjet flies beyond 60 minutes of an adequate airport.
For the first time, this new rule also applies ETOPS enhancements and protections to the extended operation of three- and four-engine passenger airplanes. For these "tris and quads," ETOPS applies when the airplane flies beyond 180 minutes of an adequate airport. To ease the transition to the new rule for all current operators, delayed compliance dates are specified for many of this rule's requirements.
In this regulatory updating, the FAA has recognized the outstanding propulsion reliability and overall safety of long-range twinjets. The new ETOPS rule creates the opportunity for carriers to fly properly configured and approved twinjets on optimal flight routings between virtually any two points on earth.This article:
- Briefly reviews the collaborative global evolution of the new U.S. ETOPS rule.
- Examines this rule's specific regulatory modifications and additions to show what has changed relative to the previous "twinjet-only ETOPS," with which the industry is so familiar.
Although the new ETOPS rule embraces airplane design, maintenance, and operation, this article focuses primarily on the rule's operational impacts. Moreover, the discussion is confined to flights conducted under U.S. Code of Federal Regulations 14 CFR Part 121 (scheduled air carrier operations), even though the new rule for the first time also applies ETOPS to flights conducted under 14 CFR Part 135 (commuter and on-demand operations).