Airbus seeking 420-minute ETOPS certification for A350

The A350 departs Sydney for Auckland on Tuesday afternoon. (Lee Gatland)
The A350 departs Sydney for Auckland on Tuesday afternoon. (Lee Gatland)

While the A350 will receive extended operations clearance of 180 minutes upon certification, the ultimate aim for Airbus is that the aircraft will be able to fly virtually unrestricted anywhere around the world.

A350 test aircraft MSN5, currently on an around-the-world route proving trip as part of the final certification phase, landed in Sydney on Tuesday from Johannesburg. After a short stay in Sydney, the aircraft then made the short hop to Auckland where it will spend the night before heading off on another long over water trek to Santiago in Chile.

A350 project test pilot Frank Chapman said the flight plans for both these long legs were not restricted by extended operations regulations given they were test flights with only crew and technical staff on board.

But Chapman explained Airbus was working on eventually securing 420-minute ETOPS restrictions for operators of the aircraft. This would mean, apart from a few routes over the north and south poles, the A350 would have no restrictions on where it could fly, Chapman said from the flightdeck of MSN5 on Tuesday.

A 420-minute ETOPS would mean the aircraft would be approved to fly for seven hours on one engine in the event of an engine failure.

Extended operations, or ETOPS, rules restrict how far an aircraft can fly from the nearest airport.

Recently, Boeing said its 787 Dreamliners received ETOPS clearance for 330-minutes, which opened up the possibility of the twinsets being used for two of Qantas’s longest overwater routes currently flown with the four-engine 747-400 – Sydney to Johannesburg and Sydney to Santiago.