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