LONDON – Airbus has exceeded a current milestone for the Airbus A330neo program with ETOPS (Extended-range Twin Engine Aircraft Operations) approval from EASA going “beyond 180 minutes”.

The approval includes 180 minutes ETOPS approval but also includes the option for a rating of up to 285 minutes, extending potential air diversion distances to around 2,000 nautical miles.

The US’ Federal Aviation Administration approval for this is expected to be completed “soon”, according to the manufacturer.

The manufacturer continued celebrating the approval via the following mentioned in its statement.

“The granting of this ETOPS capability is a testimony to the aircraft’s design and systems maturity, which has been demonstrated to be as good as its predecessor – the versatile and extremely reliable A330-200/-300 family, proven over many millions of flights.”

The 285 minute approval is significant in itself because it means that A330neo operators can now serve new direct ‘non-limiting’ routings, offering further safety when in the air.

It also gives more diversion airports as options in case of an emergency, which will offer more capabilities to the pilots in command if necessary.

This also marks a decade of Airbus’ achievement for the A330 Family itself.

Back in 2009, the -200/300 variants became the first airliner family to gain an ETOPS approval “beyond 180min certification”, granted first by EASA.

The last ten years has therefore seen 20 million ETOPS flight hours accumulated by the entire twin-engine family within Airbus, most of which have been acquired by the A330 Family single-handedly.

The ETOPS approval beyond 180 minutes can also be a benefit to the A330neo operators, especially with the 25% fuel consumption that is on offer. Better fuel efficiency means better range and better ETOPS as a result.

The better range is seen through its offering of 7,200 nautical miles even with a three-class cabin.

It will be interesting to see how far forward Airbus can go beyond 180 minutes, and even beyond 285.

It could very well go to the point where as range and technology is enhanced, there is no reasoning for beyond a figure like 300 minutes.