ETOPS - (Extended Twin-engine Operational Procedure Standards)

The following is one pilot’s opinion of the ETOPS program.

      ETOPS is a deceptive program, which, after government regulators were “Incentivized” into reducing airline safety standards, is a pitiful and obvious attempt to justify the airlines cutting costs by allowing the use of airliners, having only 2 engines, to carry passengers on extended over-ocean routes, which take these airliners many hundreds of miles out to sea and several hundred miles and several hours away from airports.

      This outrageous ETOPS program attempts to justify, and give credibility to, the recent change from the previous requirement that an airliner, crossing vast open oceans, have 3 or 4 engines, in order that they have multiple engine redundancy in case of engine(s) failure.

      Recently publicized engine failures prove that, no matter how well they may be designed and built, all man-made machines can and do fail, and this should be a valid concern to all aviation professionals.

      The fact that the ETOPS program evens exists, in itself, shows that regulators and airline executives are, and have been, fully aware of the dangers of these 2-engine extended overwater operations, and of the need to fabricate a document (ETOPS) in order to attempt to cover their asses in case a catastrophic ditching of a 2-engine airliner, loaded with passengers, should occur, after an engine failure.

      In spite of its professional image, all ETOPS really does, at the obvious “Request” of various airlines, is to systematically and gradually, and, many believe secretly, increase the over-water distance from land that 2-engine airliners are allowed to carry innocent and non-aviation knowledgeable passengers.

***(From the original 500 miles at the inception of ETOPS, to the now greatly increased distance of many thousands of miles from land)

      From Wikipedia – “Dick Taylor, then Boeing's director of engineering, approached FAA director J. Lynn Helms in 1980 about the possibility of an exemption to the 3 or 4 engine FAA requirement, whose response was "It'll be a cold day in hell before I let twins fly long haul, overwater routes”.

***Apparently, FAA officials of the past were more concerned with the safety of airline passengers than are current NTSB/FAA officials, and, were less concerned with accomodating powerful business interests.

      The world’s oceans are just as vast, cold, and deep, today, as they were in the past, and, engine failures continue to occur today, just as they did in the past.

      In spite of the many recent reports of engine failures, which are obviously well-known in the aviation community, ETOPS, nevertheless, is intended to give “Cover” to airline executives, the NTSB, the FAA, and other regulatory agency personnel, by deceptively implying that the existance of this fabricated and obviously inaccurate ETOPS program will shield these airline executives and government regulators from the responsibility and consequences of their dangerous cost-cutting policies and, incredibly, can, by itself, reduce the number of aircraft engine failures when many miles out over the ocean.

      ETOPS attempts to convey that certain “Higher maintenance and other standards” on ETOPS over-water certified airplanes, can eliminate or reduce the possibility of engine failures. ***This implies that non-ETOPS commercial airliners are maintained and equipped to a lower standard.
***However, if the quality of maintenance “Standards” can be increased in order to reduce the possibility of engine failures on ETOPS over-water certified airplanes, then, we must ask why these higher standards aren’t applied to all aircraft engines, and, not only to ETOPS operations.

      From ETOPS -  “It must be demonstrated that, during the single-engine diversion flight, “that the probability of the remaining engine failing is extremely remote”, and, that the flight crew “Is not unduly burdened by extra workload due to the lost engine” ? ? ?.

      UAL Flt. #1175 (see: NTSB Report – enclosed), did, in fact, have an extra third pilot on the flight deck, (not normally present), who proved to be essential and indispensable in assisting the normally 2-pilot flight crew in successfully completing this flight, after the engine failure, and, after some other unanticipated aerodynamic problems which severely challenged the airplanes single-engine capabilities.

***So, in regular operations, without this third pilot, would the crew have been “Unduly burdened”? ? ?

      These are obviously ridiculous, pitiful and desperate CYA statements, as one would hope that regulations on all commercial flights, whether over water or land, would require the same high maintenance standards as ETOPS certified over-water aircraft, and that the “Probability” of an engine failing is equally remote in all airline operations.

***How could anyone determine that an aircraft jet-engine, regardless of age, and, which operates continuously, and for many hours, under tremendous stresses and temperature extremes, has a lower probability of failure than any other aircraft engine ???

      An absolutely absurd statement as any man-made machine can fail at any time, proven by the many recent engine failures which have occurred on ETOPS certified airliners i.e. United Airlines flights #328 and #1175, and others.


***The ETOPS fallacy that engine failures, on 2-engine airliners, are more serious over water, than they are over land, and, therefore, these engines require a higher standard of maintenance, is blatantly false.
***An engine failure, on a 2-engine airliner, during the first few seconds after lift-off, can be just as serious, or, can have even worse consequences, as an engine failure over water.

***Pilot’s practice engine failures, on take-off, regularly, but, without the unexpected aerodynamic/drag problems, and engine instrument failures, which had confused the pilots of UAL Flt. #1175 as to what had actually happened to the airplane, and, delayed their response to the engine failure for 30 seconds. (see: enclosed NTSB Report-UAL #1175- YouTube video))

***Fortunately, UAL Flt. #1175 was cruising at high altitude when the engine failure occurred and the pilots had the extra time and sufficient altitude and airspeed to analyze and troubleshoot the problems.

       An engine failure occurring immediately after lift-off, however, would give the pilots no such precious time, altitude, and airspeed, and, regardless of any possible pilot stress, fear, or fatigue, which may be present, or, any other pilot confusion, hesitation, or delay, which may occur, as happened on UAL Flt. #1175, would, nevertheless, require immediate, split-second, and flawless pilot reactions, in order to enable an airliner, close to the ground, and, heavily loaded with passengers and fuel, to continue to climb with only one operating engine and with only one-half the normal take-off power.

      Therefore, stress induced pilot mistakes or delayed reactions, or, many other unanticipated problems, which could occur following an engine-failure during the first critical 15-20 seconds after lift-off, could cause an airliner to crash on take-off, regardless of the airplanes “supposedly” single-engine climb capabilities and pilot training.

***In adition, should the departure airport be located in a metropolitan area, a serious crash would kill not only the passengers aboard the airplane, but, also, people living below the aircrafts flight path, making an airplane crash, over land, actually a greater catastrophe than an over-ocean crash.

      Therefore, the ETOPS statement, that ETOPS certified engines, used on extended over-water flights, will be maintained to a higher safety standard than non-ETOPS certified engines/aircraft, is - - - - stupid.

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      ETOPS is an obvious attempt to justify the un-justifiable, and, should a 2-engine airliner carrying many hundreds of passengers, including many children and infants, be forced into a catastrophic ocean ditching, in order for these airlines to cut expenses, (imagine a night ditching), and, because airline

executives and government officials have been fully aware of this obviously dangerous and irresponsible policy of allowing 2-engine airliners to cross vast ocean expanses, and, which is perpetuated on innocent, unknowing, and trusting airline passengers, a catastrophic airliner ditching, caused by this reduction of airline safety standards, would certainly result in the financial ruin of the affected airline.

*** Regarding the Hawaiian flights, the catastrophic ocean-ditcing of an airliner, filled with tourists, believing they were on their way to a vacation in paradise, would certainly have a devastating affect on the future Hawaiian economy, and, therefore, probably would, and, in the opinion of this writer, should, result in the criminal prosecution of all involved, including these airline executives and government regulators who permitted, and carried out, these dangerous cost-cutting practices.

***Therefore, in the opinion of this writer, by the airlines ignoring this obvious risk to the tourist based economy of the Hawaiian Islands, and, in order to cut their cost and increase profits, these airlines, especially Hawaiian Airlines, are showing a great amount of self-interest and disregard for, not only the lives of their passengers and crews, but also for the welfare of the citizens and businesses of Hawaii.

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