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Engines Turn or Passengers Swim: A Case Study of How ETOPS Improved Both Safety and Economics in Aviation

116 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2013 Last revised: 5 Dec 2013

J. Angelo DeSantis

University of California, Davis - School of Law

Date Written: December 2013

Abstract

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.

Keywords: ETOPS, extended operations, FAA, aviation, 60-minute rule, regulation, case study

Suggested Citation

DeSantis, J. Angelo, Engines Turn or Passengers Swim: A Case Study of How ETOPS Improved Both Safety and Economics in Aviation (December 2013). Journal of Air Law and Commerce, Vol. 78, No. 1, 2013; UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 359. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2358232

Joseph Angelo DeSantis (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis - School of Law ( email )

400 Mrak Hall Dr
Davis, CA CA 95616
United States

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