The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration approved the Airbus A350-900 for “extended-range, twin-engine aircraft operations (ETOPS) beyond 180 minutes diversion time. This means that when the first FAA-affiliated operators start to take delivery of their A350 aircraft in 2017 they will be able to serve new direct non-limiting routings, compared with a standard 180 minute ETOPS diversion time.
It also means that the A350 XWB is approved now for ETOPS beyond 180 minutes by both European (EASA) and American (FAA) civilian aviation regulatory agencies.
The A350 XWB is Airbus’s family of twin-engine wide-body jets developed to bring high fuel-efficiency and high capacity to the long-range aircraft sector. It is the first Airbus with both fuselage and wing structures made primarily of carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer. The A350-900, the first of three variants in the series, seats up to 440 passengers but typically is arranged for 325.
Airbus has logged nearly 800 orders for the A350 series, and has delivered a total of 19 of jets since 2015 to Qatar Airways, Vietnam Airlines, Finnair, TAM Airlines, and Singapore Airlines. Future U.S. carriers will include American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines.
This FAA approval, which includes ‘ETOPS 180min’ in the basic specification, also includes provisions for up to ‘ETOPS 300min’ – corresponding to a maximum diversion distance of 2,000 nautical miles at one-engine-inoperative speed under standard atmospheric conditions.
Later this year, once the A350-900 accumulates additional in-service experience, FAA will grant a further provision for ‘ETOPS 370 min.’, which will extend the maximum diversion distance up to 2,500 nm.
The ETOPS 300-min. option will allow the operators to schedule more efficient trans-Pacific routes, e.g., South-East Asia and Australia to the U.S, according to the OEM. Operators flying on existing routes will be able to plan straighter, more fuel-efficient flights with lower CO2 emissions (with more en-route diversion airports if needed.)