787 Details - Part 1 of 3
If you’ve looked closely at some of the larger airliners, you may have noticed the word ETOPS is painted somewhere on the aircraft - often on the nose landing gear door, or near the tail. Ever wondered what it means?
Originally it stood for Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards. As of January 2007, it now stands for Extended Operations. What exactly does that mean though?
Put very simply, it means that the aircraft is certified to fly certain distances over water or remote areas - hence the alternate definition that some have given it: Engines Turn Or Passengers Swim 😂. More specifically, for airliners operating under FAR Part 121 regulations, ETOPS certification is needed for any 2-engine aircraft operating more than 60 minutes flying time from an adequate airport, or 180 minutes for an aircraft with more than 2 engines. Depending on the aircraft, operator, and route, ETOPS operations can be specified for even longer distances. For example, the 787 (as shown in this pic) is rated for ETOPS-330 (330 minutes from an airport) - enabling it to fly extremely remote routes, such as Sydney to Santiago - one of the longest over-ocean distances flown by a commercial airline.
As you can imagine, there are many regulations that apply to ETOPS. There are standards for the aircraft and engine, operator requirements, requirements for the suitability of alternate airports chosen, etc. On ETOPS flights, fuel is planned for the absolute worst-case scenario: rapid decompression (with descent to a lower altitude) and a simultaneous engine failure at the most critical point - along with unfavorable winds and icing conditions; plus enough fuel for 15 minutes of holding, approach and landing; and fuel for inflight APU usage, if required.
So, if you’re ever on a very long flight, and there just happens to be an engine failure, there’s no need to panic! You can have a little comfort knowing that they’ve planned for this - the airline has a documented procedure, the aircraft has been certified for it, and there’s plenty of fuel on board to make it to the nearest airport - even if it is 5 1/2 hours away. - 2 days ago