Wednesday, October 15, 2014

European Regulator Clears Airbus A350 For Extended Single-Engine Flights: Decision Opens The Door For Airline Operators to Explore New Ultralong Routes

The Wall Street Journal
By Robert Wall
Oct. 15, 2014 10:28 a.m. ET

Airbus Group NV has received approval from European regulators to fly the A350, its newest long-range jet, on a single-engine for up to 370 minutes from the nearest airfield, in a decision that opens up new long distance routes for airlines.

The European Aviation Safety Agency cleared the A350 for commercial service in late September, but held off on setting the single-engine operations limit as it continued analyzing flight test data provided by the Toulouse-based plane maker. Airbus conducted tests over the summer to demonstrate that the A350 could contain fire in the cargo hold over the period and demonstrate the reliability of a range of onboard systems.

The A350’s ability to fly for 6 hours and 10 minutes means that it easily beats Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner, which can fly for 5/12 hours on one engine.

However, the performance of both aircraft means that ultralong polar and overseas routes are now open for airline operators. Some of the new, nonstop routes that would be open to twin-engine jets include trips from Australia to Brazil, or New Zealand to South Africa.

Airbus said it expects the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to follow with its own approval “soon.” Lead customer Qatar Airways is poised to receive its first A350 next month.

Airbus’ A330-300 widebody already has approval from regulators to fly as far as four hours from the nearest airport under so called Extended-range Twin Operations, or ETOPS, rules.

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