The US Federal Aviation Administration and European Aviation Safety Agency agreed ETOPS rules needed updating, but the FAA has done it as EASA is still working on it. Meanwhile, EASA says JAR-Ops 1 rules require ETOPS-equipped twins to stick to tracks that do not stray more than 180min flying time from usable diversion airfields. The FAA, however, anticipates some convergence when EASA finally acts. "The basic structure of our rule harmonises with the current [EASA] drafts," it says. Differences, says the FAA, include a "moving" European engine reliability requirement for airlines applying to operate twin-engined aircraft beyond 180min from diversions. "In the USA, the required reliability is pegged at 0.01/1,000 engine hours [1 failure in 100,000 hours of engine operation]."

However, EASA distinguishes more robustly between twins and aircraft with three or four engines. EASA will have a separate LROPS (long-range operations) rule for trijets and quads operating over ocean or wilderness. LROPS is likely to include upgraded requirements for trijets' and quads' fire detection and suppression and emergency oxygen systems similar to the US rule.

EASA expects to issue a notice of proposed amendment on ETOPS revisions by mid-year with a ruling anticipated in 2008, adding that it expects rulings on LROPS "at roughly the same time".

Source: Flight International