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JAA offers to relent on business-jet ETOPS limits

A European Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) offer to relax its proposed limits on extended-range twin-engine operation (ETOPS) for business jets has been hailed by the general-aviation industry as "a workable solution".

According to the US General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), the JAA's original 120min ETOPS rule announced on 31 December, 1996, would not actually increasing safety margins. The JAA has now accepted the US Federal Aviation Administration proposal of 180min ETOPS, even though this in itself represents the first move by an aviation authority to set a maximum distance over which a twin-engined business aircraft may be operated from a suitable airfield.

There have been no ETOPS-related accidents in more than 30 years of such operations.

The controversy was defused when the Joint Aviation Requirements-OPS Committee of the JAA voted to amend the rule, allowing the aircraft to fly up to 180min from an airport, provided that certain procedures are followed in the areas of maintenance, operations and dispatch.

The specific procedures have not been spelled out by the panel, but a working group has been established with a view to drafting them by late September.

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