Qantas will have two aircraft options should it choose to transition its long over-water flights to Johannesburg and Santiago de Chile from four-engine Boeing 747-400s to big twins after the Airbus A350 received ETOPS certification for up to 370 minutes.
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has approved the A350-900 for Extended-range twin engine aircraft operations (ETOPS) for a maximum of 370 minutes. Airbus says it is the first new aircraft type ever to receive such a level of ETOPS approval prior to entry into service.
The A350 is also certified for 180-minute and 300-minute ETOPS, depending on individual airlines’ selection, Airbus said on October 15.
“The ETOPS 370-minute option will be of particular benefit for new direct southern routes such as between Australia, South Africa and South America,” Airbus said in a statement.
“The ETOPS 300-minute option will facilitate more efficient transoceanic routes across the North and Mid-Pacific – such as from South East Asia to US, and Australasia to the US.”
A 370-minute ETOPS would mean the aircraft would be approved to fly for six hours and 10 minutes 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.
Boeing said in June 2014 the 787’s 330-minute ETOPS clearance opened up economical operations with twinjets between Sydney and Santiago and Sydney and Johannesburg.
“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,” a Boeing spokesperson told Australian Aviation in June.
“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.”
In August, Qantas announced it had pushed back the deadline for exercising the first of its 50 options and purchase rights for Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft for 12 months to 2017.
Qantas was in the process of retiring all but nine of its 747s, which are mainly used to Johnannesburg, Santiago and the United States.
Meanwhile, Qantas’s low-cost subsidiary Jetstar had taken delivery of seven of the 14 787-8s on firm order.
No Australian airline has ordered any variant of the Airbus A350, which has 750 orders from 39 customers. First delivery of the A350 to launch customer Qatar Airways was expected in December.