Last week, Boeing announced FAA approval to offer 330-minute ETOPS on the 777 including the 777-300ER, 777-200LR, 777 freighter, and 777-200ER equipped with General Electric GE90 engines. Approval for the 777-200ER with Rolls-Royce or Pratt and Whitney engines is expected to follow over the next few months.
Air New Zealand will be the first airline to take advantage of this option, on 777-300ER aircraft at first. The carrier intends to obtain similar certification for its 777-200ER fleet, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 892 engines, as soon as possible.
Today's Featured Map (posted from New Zealand!) shows routes from Air New Zealand's Auckland hub which might take advantage of this capability, combined with ETOPS contours for the 777 at the 240-minute rating Air New Zealand currently has and with the new, 330-minute rating. SFO and LAX are the only two already served by Air New Zealand, both routes which do not require more than 180-minute ETOPS. ORD and IAH are the main hubs for Star Alliance-partner United Airlines, which has already announced the intention to fly AKL-IAH with the 787. South American destination Santiago is currently served by LAN Chile with an Airbus A340; Buenos Aires has been serveed by Aerolíneas Argentinas in the past with a Boeing 747.
Johannesburg, hub of Star Alliance-partner South African Airways, is an interesting case since even 330-minute ETOPS is insufficient as there is a large "hole" in the southern Indian Ocean with no suitable alternate airports. A slight diversion to the north keeps the path within 330 minutes of Perth or Réunion at single-engine speed for the 777 (ignoring winds) while adding just 0.3% to the total distance.
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Karl L. Swartz.
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