Boeing Sports 330 Minute ETOPS on 777

GE 90 Engine on British Airways Boeing 777 | Commercial Aviation and Airline News

ETOPS 330 on GE90

ETOPS, Engines Turn or Plane Swims, or more accurately, Extended Operations was developed to allow twin-engined commercial airliners to fly long distance routes, such as over oceans where alternate airports are few and far between.  With the latest in technology, aircraft are not only flying over vast oceans, but they’re flying over uninhabited areas such as the North Pole — remember the shortest distance between two points is a great circle route.  Today, ETOPS doesn’t necessitate twin engine, as Boeing, for example, is obtaining ETOPS certification for the quad engine 747-8 intercontinental. Getting back to the Boeing 777, it is indeed a twin engine aircraft making ETOPS of utmost importance given the long range routes the birds can operate.

Today, December 12, 2011, Boeing officially announced it has received type-design approval from the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for up to 330-minute extended operations (ETOPS) for its 777 fleet.

The authorization allows 777 customers who purchase or already operate the 777-300ER (Extended Range), 777-200LR (long range), 777 Freighter and 777-200ER models equipped with General Electric engines the ability to fly up to 330 minutes from an alternate airport.  FAA approval for the 777-200ER equipped with other engines, specifically Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney, is expected to follow in the upcoming months.

The first airline to purchase the new longer ETOPS option is Air New Zealand. Air New Zealand completed the first 240 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, and more than 120 Boeing operators fly more than 50,000 ETOPS flights each month,” 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.”

Captain David Morgan, chief pilot for Air New Zealand said, “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.”

The new FAA approval allows airlines that operate routes in the south Pacific, over the North Pole, and from Australia to South America and southern Africa to fly the most direct routes.

An increasing number of operators already are providing ETOPS service to their passengers. For example, 93 percent of 777, 50 percent of 767 and 33 percent of 757 operators fly ETOPS routes. Two-engine ETOPS routes are more than 60 minutes from an alternate airport.  When the 757 was released, it wasn’t quite expected they’d be operating ETOPS routes, but today it’s common to see the Boeing 757-200 operate from the US East Coast to European destinations.

Just as common are 757-200 and -300’s flying between the US west coast to Hawaii. Thanks to ETOPS certifications, the newer Next Generation 737’s are making the hop between the US west coast and Hawaii — Alaska Airlines regularly makes the 2,783 mile journey between Anchorage and Honolulu as well as the 2,803 mile journey from Anchorage to Kahului on the island of Maui; the aircraft — ETOPS certified Boeing 737-800.  If you were to look back a good 10 to 20 years, most of the Hawaiian routes were operated exclusively by larger, wide-bodied aircraft.

The 777 fleet has flown more than 2 million ETOPS flights since its debut in June 1995. Fifty-three 777 operators fly more than 22,000 ETOPS flights per month.

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