PARAMARIBO - Although the SLM's Boeing 777-200ER has now been declared airworthy, it still lacks ETOPS certification. That is why the Surinamese company has to make a significant detour when the Boeing is used on the route to Schiphol.
SLM director Radjesh Radjkoemar confirms this to De Ware Tijd. According to him, it provides an extra flight time of one and a half hours to Schiphol, but according to experts who consulted the newspaper it would even go at three extra hours.
Due to the lack of ETOPS (Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards) certification, the Triple Seven is not allowed to fly over stretches of the Atlantic Ocean where there is no alternate airport nearby. For example, the aircraft cannot fly the shortest route.
The aircraft that the SLM previously used on the scheduled service to Schiphol (Airbus A340, Boeing 747) did not have this problem, because they are four-engined and therefore do not require ETOPS certification. With four engines, it is less problematic if one of the engines breaks down.
'Cause CASAS and corona'
Radjkoemar attributes the lack of ETOPS certification for the Triple Seven to the corona crisis and to the Surinamese aviation authority CASAS. The SLM itself would not be guilty of it. "Let this be clear, this has to do with the Covid situation and with CASAS."
According to the SLM director, all that is needed is a flight SIM demonstration. It would take place in Miami, because CASAS itself does not have enough expertise, but that cannot continue due to corona. "CASAS is now looking into how to attract that expertise in the Netherlands."
"The machine is now non-ETOPS certified and CASAS does not need any expertise for that", says Radjkoemar. The Boeing will probably be deployed to Schiphol from September, but with a detour for the time being. It is not clear how long this will take.
Yet another setback
The ETOPS issue is yet another setback in the certification of the Boeing 777. The former Singapore Airlines aircraft, which will be temporarily leased until a Boeing 787 joins the fleet, should have entered service early this year.
The SLM has been using expensive wet-lease devices for the route to Schiphol for months now. An Airbus A340 from Air Belgium is currently in use.
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Will they get ETOPS certified in a timely manner? Seems to be expensive to have to fly a detour of 1,5hours to 3 hours each leg. What route do they have to fly? I guess, either fly east and than fly Brazil - Africa? Or fly way up north towards Canada - Iceland - Scotland route. It would be interesting to hear the thoughts and views of someone more in the know about this issue.