The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved the Airbus A350-900 for ‘beyond 180 minutes’ extended-range twin engine aircraft operations (ETOPS). This means that when the first FAA-affiliated carriers (including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines) start taking deliveries of the type next year the jets will be able to serve new direct non-limiting routes, compared with a standard 180-minute ETOPS diversion time. The approval also includes a provision for up to 300-minute ETOPS which corresponds to maximum diversion distance of 2,000 nautical miles (3,704km) at one-engine-inoperative speed under standard atmospheric conditions. The European manufacturer is planning to seek further approval from the FAA later this year to raise this to 370 minutes once the type has accumulated more in-service experience.
Airbus says the ETOPS 300-minute option will allow more efficient transoceanic routes across the North and Mid-Pacific – journeys such as South-East Asia to the US and Australasia to the US. While operators flying existing routes (up to 180-minute diversion time) will be able to fly straighter more efficient flight paths resulting in lower fuel burn and reduced emissions.