A330-900 Certified for ‘Beyond 180-minutes’ ETOPS

 - January 28, 2019, 10:10 AM
The first TAP Air Portugal Airbus A330-900 plies a route between Lisbon and Sao Paulo. (Photo: Airbus)

The Airbus A330-900 has won ETOPS certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for “beyond 180-minutes” diversion time, a category of approval that includes an option for ETOPS 285min, allowing for a potential diversion distance of some 2,000 nm. Airbus now awaits the same approval for the larger of a pair of Rolls-Royce Trent 7000-powered A330neo models from the U.S. FAA, which the company said it expects “soon.”

The ETOPS 285min option will allow A330neo operators to serve new direct “non-limiting” routings, while operators flying on existing routes flown with up to 180-minute diversion time can use a straighter, quicker, and more fuel-efficient path and enjoy access to more and possibly better equipped en route diversion airports, said Airbus.

TAP Air Portugal placed the first production A330-900 into service on December 15 with an 11-hour, 25-minute flight from Lisbon and São Paulo. Two more of the new model joined the TAP Air Portugal fleet on January 10. The airline expects to receive another 16 A330-900s by the end of this year.

The A330-900 received EASA type certification on September 26, but at the time TAP remained cautious about identifying a precise date for first service as the program awaited 180-minute ETOPS certification from the FAA.

Airbus flew the smaller of its pair of A330neos—and A330-800—for the first time on November 6 and expects that model to gain EASA certification around the middle of the year. An October 15 purchase agreement with Kuwait Airways for eight A330-800s gave Airbus a badly needed launch customer for the A330-800, whose previous initial customer, Hawaiian Airlines, canceled its commitment for six examples in favor of Boeing 787-9s in late February. The A330-900 has now collected firm orders for 230 examples.