Economic pressures may result in an increase of Extended-range Twin-engine Operations with longer flight times, and flights greater than 7000 nm. Multiple agencies worldwide offer flights of nearly 17 hours’ duration, including Qatar Airways’ Doha-Auckland voyage and Qantas’ Sydney-Dallas route. Recently, United Airlines announced its plan to offer a non-stop flight from L.A. to Singapore (14,000 km), with a duration of 17 hours and 55 minutes. While fuel costs of such routes have kept them prohibitively expensive, many are still in operation, and more continue to be established.
Recent approval of 330 minutes ETOPS diversion time for certain aircraft is evidence of the demand for longer flights. Currently, Boeing 777 and 787 operators are licensed to engage in 330-minute ETOPS. Benefits of these lengthier flights include more direct route planning, lower fuel burn, and fewer emissions than a typical flight path. However, concerns exist regarding inadequate rest times and overexertion for the flight crew.
- Excessive crew duty times and inadequate crew rest
- Passenger health issues (deep vein thrombosis)
- Inadequacy of support and/or medical facilities at airports to which flights may be diverted and survival after a crash in cold environments
- Future concepts such as in-flight refueling or formation flight have clear safety implications.
- Inadequate fire suppression capability for duration of ETOPS