Volume 34 | Thursday, August 12th, 2021
Welcome back to Jump Seat. This week, we are focusing on something that has grown in relevancy along with the increase in transoceanic flights: ETPs and ETOPS. 
The Basics of ETPs and ETOPS

Otherwise known as “Critical Points”, Equal Time Points (ETPs) are utilized within flight plans to provide diversion guidance during non-standard operations. ETP calculations take wind speed and direction into account to determine whether it is best to return to the departure airport, redirect to a diversion airport, or continue on to the destination. 
There are several calculations that are made based on en route scenarios. The PNR, or Point of No Return, can be established by three different choices - returning back to the departure, to the nearest ETP airport, or to a separate airport. The next two calculations, one engine inoperative and depressurization, are both utilized when there is a performance issue with the aircraft. In those cases, the aircraft typically drops to a lower altitude in an effort to conserve fuel, oxygen, or time. In the final medical scenario, the aircraft needs to land as quickly as possible but is not limited in any way. 

Extended-range Twin-engine Operations Performance Standards (ETOPS) utilize a time period - typically 90, 120, or 180 minutes - to ensure that an aircraft is within a suitable distance to a diversion airport. The certification level depends on aircraft capabilities with just one performing engine. 

ETPs and ETOPS are most frequently included in flight plans over the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans where there are fewer diversion options and inclement weather is common. However, some operators elect to include the calculations on transcontinental flights that are over sparse regions. They are generally used by scheduled Charter (Part 135) and Commercial (Part 125) operators as a requirement, however, many General Aviation (Part 91) operators elect to use them as part of their own internal procedures.  

Selecting ETP and ETOPS Airports
Choosing ETP and ETOPS airports can be tricky as there are many variables to consider. Because the calculations are route-dependent, it is typically a good workflow to determine the optimized flight path first and then select airports that are along that path. However, when winds aloft and weather minimums are factored in, it is sometimes necessary to rework the route to accommodate the best diversion airport options. This can be especially true over the North Atlantic. Depending on the orientation of the jetstream, sometimes it is more beneficial to use a location in the Azores vs one in Iceland. But the weather in both locales can be temperamental at times.

The “ETOPS/ETP Airports” tool that is embedded in the mapping layer can help flight planners determine their options based on filters for the distance from the route path and the minimum runway length at the airport. Additionally, our team of flight coordinators is well equipped to offer solutions. We can suggest typical routes and airports and help troubleshoot any calculation errors that may occur. To collaborate with a flight coordinator, call 1-410-266-2266 or email flightops@arinc.com.  
Did you know?
  • ARINCDirect is working on an enhancement to the Plotting Chart feature to allow 3rd party flight plan users to enter their own ETP and ETOPS data. There will be a simple interface where users can enter minimal ETP and ETOPS data from their 3rd party plan to enable the functionality. This highly anticipated capability should be in a release coming to the app store very soon.  

  • When including ETP calculations in your flight plan, the system will attempt to use the available fuel onboard first. If that is insufficient, then additional fuel will be added to accommodate the ETP scenarios. A warning indicating the amount of fuel added will be visible within the routing pane while planning and atop the computed flight plan window after calculation. 
Useful Links:
  • For more information on how ETPs and ETOPS are factored into the ARINCDirect system, check out this manual.

Thank you for reading!