Airbus A350 cleared to fly record distance on one engine

Wed Oct 15, 2014 11:07am EDT
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By Tim Hepher and Alwyn Scott

PARIS/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Airbus (AIR.PA: Quote) has won permission for its twin-engined A350 to fly more than six hours on one engine in the event of a breakdown, a key approval that allows its new long-haul jet to fly almost any passenger route.

The European Aviation Safety Agency granted the Airbus jet Extended Operations, known as ETOPS, of "beyond 180 minutes", but will allow pilots to fly the A350 for up to 370 minutes if one engine shuts down, Airbus said.

ETOPS rules determine the maximum flying time on one engine that jets can stray from the nearest airport at any point during their journey -- so they can make it back safely in the event the other engine fails.

That ceiling determines the routes that modern twin-engined jets can take over deserted areas and oceans and is therefore seen as crucial to the sales pitches for such aircraft.

The maximum A350 diversion time of six hours and 10 minutes confirms an earlier Reuters report [ID:nL6N0SA1HU].

It is equivalent to a maximum diversion distance of 2,500 nautical miles (4,630 km), an industry record, Airbus said.

Boeing's (BA.N: Quote) 787 Dreamliner has clearance to operate for 330 minutes on one engine, but the difference between the two categories is widely viewed as a marketing one since both jets will have enough margin to operate on most commercial routes.

The ETOPS rules are subject to separate clearances that must be sought by each airline.   Continued...

An Airbus A350 takes off near the Airbus A320neo (New Engine Option) after its first flight event in Colomiers near Toulouse, southwestern France, September 25, 2014.  REUTERS/Regis Duvignau