Monday, 9 June 2014 00:00
Due to a consistently excellent safety record, high standards of crew training and impeccable maintenance schedules, Mihin Lanka, Sri Lanka’s leading low-cost carrier has obtained approval from CAASL for 120 minutes of Extended Twin Engine Operations (Extended Diversion Time Operations).
Commenting on the importance of obtaining additional ETOPS flying time, Mihin Lanka Chairman/CEO Nishantha Ranatunga stated, “The additional flying time Mihin Lanka has received through ETOPS approval from CAASL reiterates the quality of the airline’s standards and procedures. In addition, 120 minutes of ETOPS approval will enable Mihin Lanka’s twin engine fleet to reach new destinations in the region, which will contribute further to Sri Lanka’s growing travel and aviation industries.”
The concept of ETOPS was introduced to the aviation industry when twin engine aircraft started flying. Considering the reliability of oldertwin engine piston aircraft,International regulators imposed restrictions stating that twin engine airplanes could only fly within one hour of an airport in case of engine failure.
This was due to the limited technology available in developing reliable twin engine aircraft at the time. However aircraft which had more than two engines did not fall into this category because the assumption was, if one or more than two engines failed in a three engine aircraft (Lock HeedTristar ) or a four engine aircraft (B747 /A340), the aircraft would still be able to fly to safety.
Regardless of the safety aspect of this regulation airplane manufacturers faced serious consequences. Airlines had to plan their routes to be within one hour from a suitable airport for twin engineairplanes to land at. To mitigate the constraint, engine manufacturers started adapting very reliable redundancy systems. This increased the reliability of aircraft engines. Airplane manufacturers started looking for engine options with greater redundancy which became the selling point for modern aircraft.
In the past, with new destinations continuously being discovered for air travel, there was a need to have twin engine aircraft as operational costs were low. Airplane manufacturers in tandem with engine manufacturers started obtaining approvals from aviation authorities to enhance the one hour limitation on twin engine aircraft. Initial grants were a mere 30 minutes over the given time which meant that airplaneshad to be 90 minutes away from an airport at any given time.
The improved engine manufacturing techniques increased engine reliability significantly and aviation authorities started increasing the time limitation on twin engine aircraft to 120 minutes, then 180 minutes and finally to 210 minutes.
The normal maximum extended approval time for Airbus A320 aircraft is 120 minutes as fuel capacity restricts the aircraft from flying for longer. Though ETOPS approvals are commercially viable for airline operators most of the airlines prefer not to opt for them due to the incurrence of high maintenance costs and training costs.
Mihin Lanka by proving its excellent engineering quality control and maintenance programmes has received approval for a further 120 minutes of ETOPS from the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka.
Mihin Lanka works with the Sri Lankan Airlines engineering team to maintain the Mihin Lanka fleet to the highest possible international standards While Sri Lankan Airlines focuses on all engineering, monitoringand maintenance ofMihin Lanka’s Airbus fleet, Mihin pilots outside their routine training continuously undergo special training.
This special trainingis conducted every six months to maintain the standards required by local and international authorities.
Obtaining 120 minutes of ETOPS approval has provided Mihin Lanka with access to destinations such as the Seychelles. The Seychelles is far beyond the equator on the southern hemisphere and like many other destinations, it would not have been accessible without the additional flying time provided by ETOPS Even other routes over water between Colombo and Medan (Sumatra) and Jakarta can now be accessed.
These new routes and are now part of Mihin Lanka’s success story, along with the airline’s reliability, well maintained fleet and dedicated crew.