Monday, January 08, 2007

FAA publishes new ETOPS rules

FAA logoToday the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published new ETOPS rules for aircraft operating under 14 CFR Parts 121 and 135. A press release issued by the FAA today says:
Since airplanes occasionally divert for reasons unrelated to the engines, such as mechanical problems or passenger medical emergencies, the rule requires that airplane systems be able to support lengthy diversions in remote and sometimes harsh environments. The rule also requires pro-active flight planning, crew training and plans to have facilities at or close to each diversion airport that will protect passengers and crew from the elements and make them comfortable.

The rule published today formalizes existing policy, industry best practices and international standards to ensure long-range flights operate safely in the Polar regions, the South Atlantic Ocean between South America and Africa, and the southeastern South Pacific Ocean. Few U.S. carriers currently operate in these areas, but these operations will likely increase in the future.

In formulating the new regulations, the FAA sought advice from a broad range of domestic and international aviation experts. In 2000, the FAA chartered an Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) to review existing policy and requirements and develop standardized requirements for extended operations in the 21st century. The new rule is based largely on the ARAC’s report, which reflects a consensus among those aviation experts on what needed to be done.
The published summary of the rule says:
This final rule applies to air carrier (part 121), commuter, and on-demand (part 135) turbine powered multi-engine airplanes used in extended-range operations. However all-cargo operations in airplanes with more than two engines of both part 121 and part 135 are exempted from the majority of this rule. Today's rule establishes regulations governing the design, operation and maintenance of certain airplanes operated on flights that fly long distances from an adequate airport. The final rule codifies current FAA policy, industry best practices and recommendations, as well as international standards designed to ensure long-range flights will continue to operate safely. To ease the transition for current operators, this rule includes delayed compliance dates for certain ETOPS requirements.
You can download the complete FAA document here: Extended Operations (ETOPS) of Multi-Engine Airplanes. (296 page 'PDF' file)