Engines Turn or Passengers Swim: A Case Study of How ETOPS Improved Both Safety and Economics in Aviation
J. Angelo DeSantis
University of California, Davis - School of Law
Journal of Air Law and Commerce, Vol. 78, No. 1, 2013
UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 359
Under the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, no commercial airplane with fewer than three engines may fly a route that at any point exceeds 60 minutes flying time from a suitable airport. The industry calls this “the 60-minute rule.” ETOPS is the exception to that rule. By satisfying stringent ETOPS requirements, an airline may fly two-engine planes on “extended operation” routes exceeding 60 minutes. ETOPS has enormously influenced the aviation industry. This article traces the early history of ETOPS, including its creation and the evolution known as “early ETOPS.” In doing so, it identifies factors contributing to ETOPS’s success. The article then evaluates these factors in light of the nearly unprecedented grounding of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner following two serious battery failures. The author argues that the difficulties of the Boeing 787 warrant the application of ETOPS-like principles to the adoption of novel technology, such as lithium-ion batteries, for aviation.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 116
Keywords: ETOPS, extended operations, FAA, aviation, 60-minute rule, regulation, case study
Date posted: November 23, 2013 ; Last revised: December 5, 2013
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