Extended Twin-Engine Operations (ETOPS) Research


ExtendedTwin-Engine Operations (ETOPS) Research

ExtendedTwin-Engine Operations (ETOPS) Research

Safetyis a vital attribute that is non-negotiable in the aviation industrythat the general public and operators expect and desire. The quest toimprove the safety in the airline industry led to the development ofstrict rules and regulations on air carriers operations, whichinclude qualifications of operators, the technical specifications ofan airplane and the routes, among others. The FAR part 121 outlinesthe operations of an aircraft.

Initially,there was been a regulation under FAR Part 121.161 which restrictsthe area in which an aircraft can reach. In response to this, theaviation society decided to seek for an exemption. This prompted tothe establishment of ETOPS.

ETOPSBrief Explanation

ExtendedTwin-Engine Operations (ETOPS) is a term used to describe a kind ofoperation in which air carriers are permitted to fly a long rangeover places where landing areas or airports are sparse or points thatare more than an hour`s flying time further from an approved landingarea. Most of those locations are long routes, for instance, over theocean. Under the FAR Part 121.161, some regulations restrict aircarriers, but ETOPS may have an exemption from the rule outlined inthe act. ETOPS has evolved over the years to include more minutes ofthe route within which the operations are allowed. According to(Chilles, 2007), ETOPS was, at first, used to describe only Part 121aircraft which had two engines. Since then, the regulations on ETOPShave been expanding to entail any two, three or even four-engineaircraft that carries passengers over an area within which airportsare not accessible as per the FAA regulations (Chilles, 2007).

Evolutionof ETOPS

In1936, pilots were required to prove that a suitable landing field wasavailable, at least every a hundred miles along their route (Fulton,2009). With the inception of CFR Part 121.161 in 1953, operators wereallowed to operate within 60 minutes of their route (Reich, 2003).With the advancement in technology, the rules have been amendedcontinuously to allow more flying minutes over areas that are farfrom landing fields. As the aircraft`s quality was continuouslyimproved, the airlines and airplanes` manufacturers decided to seekfor approval to increase the limit from 60 minutes to 120 minutes(Chilles, 2007). The push for the increase in limit went on, and withthe new generation of twin-engine airlines that emerged in the1980`s, which had some improvements in the payload, range, andreliability, the airliners tried to establish specific terms underwhich the extended-range operations could safely be operated (Reich,2003). Some certification requirements were created to providerequirements for safe and reliable long-range operations with thetwin-engine airlines.

Inlater years, the aviation industry and ALPA, as well as the FAAbecame worried about ETOPS operations expansion and decided tomaintain the level that was existing (Reich, 2003). This prompted FAAto impose strict criteria on the certification for the operationalrequirements (Fulton, 2009). According to Reich (2003), ETOPS hasbeen advancing in the operations and thus, several commercial flightsacross North Atlantic and many others across the Pacific have beenincluded in the ETOPS. Later on, in 2000, it is reported that FAAextended ETOPS operational authority from 180 to 207 minutes, whichwas termed as a win by the airline industry (Reich, 2003). Astechnology was improved, FAA acknowledged the improvement of thetwin-engine airlines which include Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 (Reich,2003). Since then, more extensions have been made, and the airlinerskeep on pushing for more due to the advantages brought about by theETOPS. To the aircraft`s manufacturers and the operators, it can beseen as an achievement because of the presence of strictcertification requirements as set forth by the FAA. The most recentextension of limit was acquired by Boeing 747-8 which received ETOPSrating of 330 minutes on March 2015 as reported by Wash (2015) in apress release by the company. It was the first time for the FederalAviation Administration (FAA) to give such a design approval.

Significanceof ETOPS

ETOPShave a number of advantages when properly implemented. Theimplementation of ETOPS offers benefits to both the passengers,aircraft manufacturers and the airliners. One of the advantages isflexibility. Allowing ETOPS implies that more passengers will beserved since more areas will be reached (U., 2013).Extended twin-engine operations will allow airliners to explore anddiscover the potential of new routes and hence new markets will beacquired (U., 2013). The approach, when effectively implemented,offers important improvements in various aspects such as performance,reliability and dispatch rates. In the economic point of view, it canbe noted that the application cost will be offset by a reduction incosts of maintenance and costs that are associated with delays,diversions and turn backs (Fulton, 2009).


Withthe advancement in technology, more sophisticated aircraft engineshave been developed. Airliners are always in the quest to penetratenew markets beyond what FAA terms as the safe range. There is a needfor the establishment of rules that will allow flexibility in theaircraft industry. In a bid to acquire ETOPS certification, theaircraft manufacturers, as well as the airliners, should strictlyadhere to safety rules. ETOPS has a promising future, but its successwill depend on the cooperation between the aviation regulatory bodiesand the airliners.


Chilles,P. (2007, March). AeroSafety World March 2007 – Flight SafetyFoundation. Retrieved November 01, 2016,http://flightsafety.org/asw/mar07/asw_mar07_p12-16.pdf?dl=1

Fulton,S. (2009, December 29). Impact of ETOPS/EDTO on Long Haul Operations.Retrieved November 01, 2016, fromhttp://forums.vatpac.org/index.php?topic=11579.0

Reich,B. (2003, August). The Future of ETOPS. Retrieved November 1, 2016,fromhttp://public.alpa.org/portals/alpa/magazine/2003/aug2003_futureofetops.htm

U.(2013). ETOPS for pilots. Retrieved November 01, 2016, fromhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFJ-IASskg4

Wash,E. (2015, March 18). News Releases/Statements. Retrieved November 01,2016, fromhttp://boeing.mediaroom.com/2015-03-18-Boeing-747-8-Intercontinental-Receives-FAA-Approval-for-330-Minute-ETOPS