Meaning of ETOPS and How it Works

At Sheffield School of Aeronautics, we offer a one day ETOPS course immediately following the completion of the Advanced International Flight Planning Course. This course is designed for those who may want to work for an airline that operates over isolated routes that don’t have common emergency landing options.

ETOPS used to stand for Extended Twin-Engine Operations, and now is Extended Operations. Originally, it was a certification that permitted twin engine aircraft to fly routes which may, at the time, be greater than 60 minutes flying time from the nearest airport that is suitable for an emergency landing. The other meaning of ETOPS is also the more informally known: Engines Turn or Passengers Swim.

What is ETOPS?

Early combustion engines were highly unreliable, and it was not uncommon for a 4-engine piston aircraft to show up at the airport with only 3 of its engines working. As a result, the twin engine aircraft were required to fly beeline paths to remain in range of an adequate airport. Aircraft that had more than two engines were not restricted by this rule of flight paths. Because of this, many transatlantic flights were flown by Boeing airliners since they can fly more direct routes. Flight plans had to accommodate these restrictions and flight dispatcher training centered around this idea.  

As time went on, aviation engineers slowly realized that jet engines are much more reliable than the piston counterpart. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began to approve flights with twin engines 120 minutes away from an accommodating airport. This new policy was now twice as long as the previous time requirement. It made twin engine aircraft more popular since their fuel efficiency is much better than a 4-engine aircraft. It also changed the way dispatcher schools trained their students as flight plans now had the option for greater flexibility.

ETOPS Certification

There is a set of standards that ETOPS certification requires both the aircraft and airline to comply with. For the aircraft, the manufacturer must demonstrate that flying with one engine is relatively manageable by the flight crew, safe for the airframe, and an extremely rare occurrence. The airline then must showcase that the flight crew’s training and maintenance procedures are up to high standards. For this reason, pilots, engineers, and aircraft dispatchers must have the proper certification.

Many flight operators are adopting the ETOPS approach as opposed to non-ETOPS routes since they realized that having the certification significantly improves reliability, performance, and aircraft dispatch rates. The price of the certification is offset later on by reduced maintenance costs, as well as the costs that are associated with diversions, delays, and turn backs.

The importance and meaning of ETOPS came to light when the first ETOPS certification was given to Trans World Airlines (TWA) in 1985. In this same year the FAA began allowing twin engine aircraft an extension up to 120 minutes from nearest appropriate airport. In 1988, it was again extended to a 180-minute maximum. Today, this has increased to a 240-minute ETOPS rule, but it is only approved in certain circumstances. All aircraft must be ETOPS certified and approved by the FAA first.

At Sheffield School of Aeronautics, we offered our first ETOPS class on July 11, 1992. This date makes us one of the first aircraft dispatcher schools, aside from the major airlines, to offer this form of advanced aviation training. If you are looking to become ETOPS certified, we offer courses throughout the year. Look for more information on course schedules and pricing today!

Why Is It Important to Learn Emergency Flight Path Patterns?

Since much of the responsibility of an aircraft dispatcher is to make sure that flights are as safe as possible, learning how to deal with emergencies or complications that arise is paramount. In aviation, certain emergencies like emergency airplane landings could arise, which highlights the importance of understanding exactly what to do. Aside from making sure that the aircraft and all of its components and passengers are safe, it is important to be sure that their emergency path is as safe and efficient as possible. This means that the path that they take reduces the amount of time that the airplane spends in the air, which is crucial in certain emergency situations. 

What Is Special About Emergency Flight Patterns?

Emergency flight patterns and emergency airplane landings differ greatly from regular flight patterns. As mentioned above, there are many other considerations that pilots and aircraft dispatchers need to take into account. For one, they will need to make sure that they use the most efficient route to the airport or landing strip possible. This is because some emergencies may occur thanks to airplanes not having enough fuel to make it to their destination. Whatever the emergency situation, there are many flight patterns that could be used. These include the following: 

  • Holding patterns – This is a circular flight path that allows the pilot to maintain altitude and stay within a certain area. 
  • Approach patterns – Predetermined flight paths that pilots use to approach airports. These are much different in emergency situations. 
  • Go-around procedures – This is a procedure where pilots abandon the landing attempt and climb back into the air. 
  • Emergency descents – A rapid descent to a lower altitude in response to a loss of cabin pressure.  
  • Diversions – This is when a pilot diverts their landing to a different airport. 

Are Emergency Water Landings Covered by ETOPS? 

Water landings are an important part of aviation, but they are not necessarily covered by ETOPS operations. ETOPS is mostly concerned with extending flight paths so that airplanes could find a new airport to land their aircraft. Aircraft water landings are a kind of emergency airplane landings that are only used under extreme circumstances and do not typically occur on flights. 

More About Sheffield School of Aeronautics

Sheffield School of Aeronautics is here to make sure that our students understand what it takes to become experienced aircraft dispatchers thanks to our proven aircraft dispatcher training and online aircraft dispatcher training services. Aside from ETOPS training, we offer the following training courses: 

Our curriculum is carefully curated to provide our students with the most balanced training possible to look forward to in their careers. If you are interested in looking for top aircraft dispatcher schools, contact our aircraft dispatcher training center today. 

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