General-aviation (GA) industry officials believe that a European Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) proposal to impose a 120min extended-range-twin-engine-operation (ETOPS) limit on twin-engined business aircraft would severely hamper their operations.

Late in 1996, a JAA Operations Committee issued a Notice of Proposed Amendment which would set a 120min ETOPS threshold for business aircraft in commercial operations. It is the first move by an aviation authority to set the maximum distance which a twin-engined business aircraft may be flown from a suitable airfield. The move would initially affect European-registered aircraft, but ultimately other business aircraft might be hit.

The US General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) opposes the proposal and, as a compromise, it urges adoption of a 180min limit, which would exempt virtually all long-range twin-engined business aircraft from the planned ETOPS requirement.

Ron Swanda, GAMA's vice-president for operations, fears that the measure would harm business- aviation sales. He says that there is no safety justification for a 120min rule since there have been no ETOPS-related accidents in more than 30 years of extended-range operations of twin-engined business aircraft.

If an ETOPS requirement is to be imposed, then business aircraft and airline-operated aircraft should both be eligible for 180min ETOPS, he argues.

He says that the US Federal Aviation Administration backs GAMA's position, and manufacturers estimate that non-recurring costs to the industry for ETOPS certification could alone exceed $200 million.

"The logical solution would be to adopt a 180min ETOPS threshold, which would maintain the margin of safety while averting unnecessary certification costs," says Swanda.

Interested parties have until 31 March to comment on the proposed rule, which could go into effect 12 months later.


Source: Flight International