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What it means if your aircraft is equipped with a label ‘ETOPS’

You’ve probably already flown on an “ETOPS” aircraft — perhaps the Airbus A350-900 — without even knowing it.

(Reuters)

Pilots and members of aviation, a range of shorthand and abbreviations to refer to everything from take-off delays at security threats.

Anyone who has a long-haul flight would have flown on an “ETOPS” aircraft without even knowing it. Technically the acronym stands for “extended-range twin-engine operational performance standards,” and it refers to the aircraft that are able to fly over the places where the landing areas are scarce or non-existent.

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Many of these flights are, by definition, cross oceans, and the pilots and other insiders have come up with their own glib definition of the abbreviation: “engines turning or passengers swimming.” In the case of a double engine failure, the aircraft could be far enough from shore to an emergency water landing.

The abbreviation can be misleading, because not all ETOPS routes over the water. Routes over parts of Canada, Africa and Antartica where there are few airports also fall under this category, according to a report.

Technically the acronym stands for “extended-range twin-engine operational performance standards,” and it refers to the aircraft that are able to fly over the places where the landing areas are scarce or non-existent.

(iStock)

For many years, ETOPS planes were only allowed to fly 60 minutes away from the nearest runway or at the airport, but Boeing and others were able to successfully argue that the engines were reliable enough to fly as far as five and a half hours drive from the nearest airport, Popular Mechanics reported.

Aircraft fly the lengthiest routes are required to conform to rigorous safety tests in order to maintain the certification. Of course, engine failure may still occur, regardless of the twin engines and tests, according to the same report, but these specimens are very rare.

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