Posts: 2689
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2000 3:44 am

Alternates And Etops Alternates

Sun Apr 27, 2003 1:20 am

Can someone explain the requirements for ETOPS alternates? Are all ETOPS flights required to have BOTH alternates and ETOPS alternates? How many are necessary? Do 180 ETOPS flights need more alternates (or have different requirements) than a 120 ETOPS flight? Any info regarding this subject is appreciated. Thanks.
Posts: 11191
Joined: Tue Jun 15, 1999 11:29 am

RE: Alternates And Etops Alternates

Sun Apr 27, 2003 8:23 am

We don't do ETOPS at my place, but I did want to compliment you for consistently asking some of the best questions I've seen here on

If you're asking these caliber questions at a 16-20 year age, I can only imagine what you'll be asking in your 20s and 30s.

I sense an airline career in your future...  Big grin
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
Posts: 2613
Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2000 8:11 pm

RE: Alternates And Etops Alternates

Sun Apr 27, 2003 8:44 am

In ETOPS, there is a difference between an adequate airfield and a suitable airfield.

An adequate airfield is appropriate for diversion on a planned ETOPS route. The assessment which goes into that ensures things like:

a) airfield equipped with the services like ATC, lighting, communications, weather reporting, navaids, safety cover, etc..;

b) at least one letdown aid must normally be available for an instrument approach

What makes an adequate airfield suitable for use as a planned alternate on an ETOPS sector is that:

at the anticipated time of use, weather reports and/or forecasts indicate that the weather conditions are very likely to be at or above the appropriate minima (either planning minima before dispatch or enroute minima once airbourne). Off the top of my head the wxr must be at or above these limits between 1hr before the earliest landing to 1hr after the latest landing might be made at each airfield.

The minima takes into account cloudbase and visibility, crosswind limits, etc.. The crew must satisfy themselves that on the day in question sufficient adequate airfields are available which are also suitable for the intended operation. This is the ultimate responsibility of the commander.

If we are on an ETOPS sector, we of course also must have a destination alternate as usual. This is a legal requirement. How many ETOPS alternates are required depends on the time limit imposed on the aircraft. With our 180 minute approved 763s we can cross the Atlantic comfortably with just two ETOPS alternates. If you were working to 120 or 138 minute rules you would need three (Keflavik comes into consideration here over the North Atlantic).

There are no additional requirements for 180 min ETOPS, generally fewer suitable alternates are needed since the aircraft is certified for flight on single engine for a greater time (= distance).
I used to love the smell of Jet-A in the morning...
Posts: 1395
Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2000 1:24 am

RE: Alternates And Etops Alternates

Mon Apr 28, 2003 2:50 am

Interesting question. In my company we don't need to follow ETOPS rules, but still have to remain within 120' of an alternate with a 2 engines aircraft. And this is often a problem when we have to fly from Europe to South America, the only south american airport we can use as an alternate being SBFN/Fernando de Noronha (Brazil) and this in order to remain within 120'. Needless to say that if ever this airport is not suitable the day of our flight.... we are in deep s**t .... either we have to wait or we have to take a northern route with the obvious fuel stop. a limo but with wings
Posts: 6224
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 1999 7:43 am

RE: Alternates And Etops Alternates

Tue Apr 29, 2003 6:36 am says SBFN has an 1845-meter runway. Which aircraft are allowed to use that as an alternate?
Posts: 1395
Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2000 1:24 am

RE: Alternates And Etops Alternates

Tue Apr 29, 2003 7:19 pm


says SBFN has an 1845-meter runway. Which aircraft are allowed to use that as an alternate?

A Falcon 2000....  Big grin a limo but with wings
Posts: 540
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2002 1:01 pm

RE: Alternates And Etops Alternates

Wed Apr 30, 2003 10:09 pm

As part of the certification process for ETOPS approval from the FAA, your diversion airports, in addition to meeting the requirements for an ETOPS alternate, such as separate (as opposed to different) suitable runways; there must also be facilities available to keep the passengers safe and out of the elements.

And, although this wasn't part of the original question, as part of the approval process, the company must also present an acceptable passenger recovery plan from the diversion airport.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: gatechae and 2 guests

Popular Searches On

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos