MIAMI — The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has made the Airbus A350-900 the first jet to be approved before entry into service for ETOPS beyond 180 minutes. The FAA’s approval is expected soon, according to Airbus.
ETOPS allows aircraft to fly for a certain number of minutes away from an airport in case of an engine failure. This EASA approval is significant because it will allow the A350 XWB will be able to fly up to 370 minutes on one engine. It will allow aircraft to fly longer distances, which is a selling point to potential airline customers.
The approval will allow A350 operators to serve new direct routings, which will benefit airlines with southern routes such as between Australia, South Africa and South America. The ETOPS 300-minute option will be good for more efficient transoceanic routes across the north and mid-Pacific, including from South East Asia to the United States, and Australasia to the U.S.
And operators flying on existing routes at the 180-minute diversion time will be able to fly a straighter, quicker and more fuel-efficient path. They will also have access to more enroute diversion airports if needed.
Airbus noted that receiving this extended ETOPS approval before the A350 XWB’s EIS is a testament to its development team being able to show that the aircraft was equivalent to proven aircraft in the A330 family. As of September 2014, the A350 XWB has 750 orders from 39 customers worldwide.
In related news Flight Global reported that MSN-006, the first production A350 XWB flew for the first time on Thursday. Separately, at a Gulfstream event announcing QR’s orders of new executive jet, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker indicated that Doha based carrier would take delivery of the first of its 80 A350’s on order between December 8th and 10th, though the first route and entry into service date has not been confirmed.