I tweeted about this while it was happening last week, but it’s worth recording on here for those who didn’t see it, and for me to come back here in a few years and go “Oh yeah – remember that?”.
Flightradar24.com’s blog has the full story, but tl:dr – a Boeing 787 did a test flight over the USA, the route of which drew an outline of a giant Boeing 787.
This was during an ETOPS test on the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 TEN engine.
I had to look up what ETOPS meant, and found that it was “Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards”. Basically, it refers to the distance that a twin (or more) engined plane is allowed to go from an airport that it can safely land at, in case of engine failure. As with many of these sorts of things, it’s actually rather more complicated than it would seem to need to be.
Still, as long as the people in charge know what’s going on, I suppose…
Regulators closely watch the ETOPS performance of both type certificate holders and their affiliated airlines. Any technical incidents during an ETOPS flight must be recorded. From the data collected, the reliability of the particular airframe-engine combination is measured and statistics published. The figures must be within limits of type certifications. Of course, the figures required for ETOPS-180 will always be more stringent than ETOPS-120.
Pfft. Of course…
Unsatisfactory figures would lead to a downgrade, or worse, suspension of ETOPS capabilities either for the type certificate holder or the airline.
And so they should. Excellent.