787’s 330min ETOPS could allow Qantas to replace the 747 to Santiago and Jo’burg

written by australianaviation.com.au | June 4, 2014
Could Qantas replace the 747 with 787s on its Santiago and Johanessburg services?
Could Qantas replace the 747 with 787s on its Santiago and Johannesburg services?

The 787’s new 330 minute ETOPS clearance opens up economical operations by the twinjet between Sydney and Santiago and Sydney and Johannesburg, Boeing has confirmed.

On May 28 Boeing announced the 787 had received FAA approval for 330 minute extended operations (ETOPS), meaning the twinjet can be certified to fly up to 5.5 hours on a single engine in the event of an engine failure. Previously, the 787 was limited to 180 minute ETOPS, meaning the aircraft had to be routed to ensure it was no further than 180 minutes – three hours – flying time on a single engine from an alternate airport in the event of an engine failure.

The new clearance, then, would allow Qantas to potentially replace the four-engined 747-400s it currently uses on its Sydney-Santiago and Sydney-Johannesburg services with the 787.

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“The Sydney-Santiago route is not possible with 180-minute ETOPS,” a Boeing spokesperson advised Australian Aviation. “It can sometimes be flown with 240-minute ETOPS with limitations that make it impractical. For example, the route is only possible when Easter Island was available for landings, which isn’t always the case. Once an airline gets ETOPS operational approval for 330 minutes, which occurs separately from airplane certification this routes become much more direct, the limitations are removed and therefore the route is more practical and reliable.”

Continued the spokesperson: “The Sydney-Johannesburg route was possible with a 787 prior to the 330-minute ETOPS approval but with very indirect routing that made it impractical. The additional ETOPS capability makes this a much more viable route. The 787 flight from Johannesburg to Sydney is about four hours shorter as a 330-minute operation than it would be as a 180-minute operation.”

The 330 minute ETOPS clearance would also allow the 787 to operate more efficient Sydney-Dallas Fort Worth routings.

While Qantas cancelled a firm order for 35 787-9s back in 2012, the Australian airline still holds options and purchase rights on up to 50 787s (either -8 or -9 models), as well as the 14 787-8s currently being delivered to low-cost carrier subsidiary Jetstar. Those options need to be exercised from 2015, although Qantas has indicated it won’t do so until its international operations are restored to profitability.

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Boeing’s 777 already has 330 minute ETOPS approval, while Airbus ultimately aims to offer its A350 twin with 420 minute ETOPS.

24 Comments

  • Markis

    says:

    LAN will have their 787 on the Chile-NZ run early next year.

  • Ahsan

    says:

    Good way to beat up the ocean down there…. !

  • Reverend

    says:

    Now air new Zealand can fly from Auckland to Buenos Aires and Qantas can adventurly get rid of the a330,380 and buy boeing 777-9x and 787-9

  • marc

    says:

    I agree Reverend, but I would also buy the 787-10 if it ever becomes available

  • Tim

    says:

    Trading a Good Plane B744 Plane for a B787 Lemon, I think its a bad choice, Qantas could upgrade to the B748i & the A350XWB & throw in a few A320neo’s & things would look much better.

  • John

    says:

    Until the battery issue is completely resolved, I for one would not want to be half way to Johannesburg, 7 hours from Sydney and 7 hours from Johannesburg, flying over Antartica, and have either an engine failure or a fire caused by the Lithium batteries!

    • Paul

      says:

      you are right mate i am a quantas customer but im having a terrible time thinking which plane can give me that confidence over the indian ocean to johannesburg which can beat the Queen of the skies

  • adammudhen

    says:

    The 330 min limit really opens up the opportunities for this plane. The 420 minute limit for the A350 is staggering. I still remember the 777 getting 180 minute limit, that seemed amazing at the time. As technology moves forward, I wonder if we’ll see ETOPS limitations vanish altogether somewhere down the road.

  • andrew

    says:

    Probably see Jetstar flying those routes soon with 787 😉 Now, that would be fun!

  • Peter Singh

    says:

    why are you guys so against airbus? in all your comments you are against airbus or do you not like competition.

  • rob

    says:

    I think the sentiment is that Qantas was stupid for not buying the 777 after even being part of the planning team and stupid for buying a380s over 787s. These poor choices have made Qantas a nearly bankrupt carrier that chooses inefficient (a380) airceaft over efficient ones. This threatens Australia’s fragile environment and their once thriving airline (Qantas).

  • Reverend

    says:

    i would not buy the boeing 787-10 because it does not have the range 777-8x yes and 777-9x

  • Dave

    says:

    I’m not sure I buy the Qantas was stupid argument Rob. Hindsight is always great and its easy to criticise after the event, but I can see how a decision away from the 777 could be made:
    a) The A330 is the perfect size for the domestic market (777 being too big), and having fleet commonality with A330-300s running internationally where the 777 range isnt needed makes some sense;
    b) At the time the newest 747-400ERs were really modern and built to a spec with the range to reach Jo’burg and South America. Also, back then, 2-engined aircraft couldn’t make it and ETOPS330 was pie-in-the-sky. The 777 back then perhaps wouldn’t have acheived what was needed.
    c) The A380s were to be the premium product for Europe and USA. And the A380 is a great piece of kit and certainly acheives that aim.

    So the question is, now that things have moved on 10 or more years, what’s the most appropriate platform to provide the non-A380 long range service? Is considering the 777X now worthwhile again? Is the 787 best, or the A350? Or up the ante and go A380 all the way to these far overseas destinations.

    I also think its hard to attribute the decision on an aircraft as the sole cause of their financial difficulties. The high cost structure of the business seems to me to be 90% of the issue. The old 737s and 767s have gone now which helps. And I guess this article allows some consideration of moving past the 747 to the next platform.

  • Rodney Marinkovic

    says:

    So far for distance to flying with twin aircraft on non stop destination as: Johannesburg, Los Angeles, Santiago Rome, San Francisco, Rio… Is Airbus A350. Only missing London and New York for non stop ultra distance so far. Airbus will upgrading this aircraft (A350) for extra hour flight. Boeing will be avillable on next product B777xxx in decade or so for any distance on trans oceanic/trans continental distance. On this moment, for next twenty years A380 and A350 is ahead of the rest. Boeing have long history. Airbus have present edge. We are lucky,
    we flying on both wings alike.
    Rod. Sydney /// Kraljevo.

  • John

    says:

    Dave is right on the money, as good as the 777 is, Qantas needed a wide body twin that could perform two roles, domestic operations to replace 767s, and regional Asia to replace A330s.
    The 777 is too big for the domestic market, so Qantas went for the 787, an aircraft they should have had 5 years ago!
    The 787 could do domestic, regional Asia, and has the potential range to operate current or new long haul destinations.
    It also offered Qantas the potential to have a very efficient 3 type fleet, 380,787,737
    If as some suggest the 380 is such a lemon, then why have most of the worlds leading airlines ordered them, eg EK SQ QF and are very happy with them?
    And regardless of what anyone thinks, passengers love the Aircraft!

  • Paule

    says:

    As an irregular overseas traveler, but both a QF Frequent Flyer and shareholder (long suffering!) I am willing to pay the premium and even change airlines to SQ in order to fly on the A380. It is a superb aircraft and by far the most superior international aircraft on the market. I would be staggered if QF went on to buy the 747-8.

    As for the QF international fleet of A330’s, they’re not a bad cancellation when flying home from SIN or HKG. Lets face it ,the QF 747’s will need to go eventually and the difficult decision will be to either go up in size to A380’s or downsize to 787-9’s. I doubt if QANTAS will ever consider the A350.

    It will be interesting to see the reaction of customers on the new DFW A380 route. Double winning there! Beautiful aircraft and not having to deal with LAX when flying onto the East Coast and Canada!

  • Brendan

    says:

    Of a different not, the last scheduled heavy maintenance check of a Qantas Boeing 767-300 “VH-OGM” will finish on Tuesday 10th June 2014.

  • Bert Foster

    says:

    The comment by Dave that the A330-300 is perfect for the long haul is the same logic that Geoff Dixon used when he bought the aircraft; the bigger the number the further it goes! Wrong; the -200 has longer range than the -300; the -300 is only bigger in passenger capacity. He thought that it was like Boeing where the bigger the model number the heavier takeoff weight and the longer the range. The -200 has a centre tank which the -300 doesn’t for the same takeoff weight, therefore can go further. It is the long range A330 currently operated over short sectors in comparison.

    Currently they wouldn’t be able to afford to buy anything let alone keep their current fleet; I can’t see Qantas ever affording to buy even the 787-9/-10, 777X or A350 which is what is really needed to supplement the A380.

    Paule, for the A380 to make it to Sydney direct from Dallas I suspect that they will be many blocked off empty seats to get the fuel on otherwise it will still be via somewhere else and where are the economies then when they have said for years that it works when you fill it up? Currently it has some trouble making LAX to Melbourne.

  • Pete

    says:

    Of course we could have been flying both these routes with the 77W or L for years now, and be running the 77L between SYD/MEL and LAX/DFW with a full load of pax and freight all year round, but we missed that boat and kept the guzzling 744ERs that are payload restricted a lot of the time anyway.

    Oish…

  • Stan

    says:

    Bert Foster, on Boeing Aircraft, Bigger number does NOT mean further range. example the 737-700 is the furthest range 737, not the -800or -900, and the 777-200lr is the longest range plane in the world, not the 777-300 or -300ER.

  • Dave

    says:

    I would have thought is more about demand/capacity/frequency rather than range. If the shorter-range model can do the longer-range trips (the -300 can do 11,000kms+ according to Airbus website) then its not that relevant is it?

    Wouldn’t the slightly smaller -200 be suited to domestic routes where higher demand, higher frequency means you can run a slightly smaller aircraft throughout the day to assist in providing good frequency of service between major Australian cities. Perhaps the thinking is the -200 works well to provide 5-6 trips between Perth and Melbourne per day, whereas the -300 would only fill 4 trips. Higher frequency is part of a more attractive overall service.

    And the -300 provides that extra capacity when you’re only fying once a day between an Australian and Asian city, the marginal cost of these seats would be reasonable I would think.

    The overall point is, if you have less types in the fleet, you save heaps on training, operations and maintenance. In these respects, the A330 is the same regardless of it being a -200 or a -300.

  • Reverend

    says:

    ide like to see Qantas buy boeing 777-9x and 777-8x and 787-9 or buy airbus a350-800 and 1000 would be great to replace the A330 a380

  • Stuart Lawrence

    says:

    What about all boeing fleet 747 800 777 787 and 737 for domestic flights or as SAS and TAP portugal have an all airbus fleet airbus 340s 330 and 320s.

  • John

    says:

    So the FAA has allowed 330 ETOPs. QF is regulated by CASA.

    In http://www.smh.com.au/travel/travel-essentials/travel-news/v-australias-longhaul-burden-20100324-qwd9.html

    “CASA says it’s unlikely an Australian airline would ever be allowed to fly beyond the 180-minute diversion limit, even though the US authority occasionally authorises 777s flying across the North Pacific between the US and Japan to operate up to 210 minutes from the nearest airport to save fuel by avoiding strong headwinds.”

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