A non-ETOPS Atlantic Crossing


What is it like to cross the Atlantic ocean without an ETOPS rating? For some British Airways passengers the answer is about 2 hours longer than usual. Travelers between London Gatwick and Bermuda have taken the scenic route over the past two days thanks to what is being reported as “minor engine issues” on the 777-200 flying the route, G-VIIX.

And the flight path shows just what such a detour looks like.

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A normal flight from Bermuda to London, as seen on FlightAware
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The non-ETOPs flight from Bermuda to London, as seen on FlightAware

Without the ETOPS operation the plane can stray no further than 60 minutes from a diversion airport. Not surprisingly that looks a lot like the route flown the past couple days.

The normal route from Bermuda to London is very much off-limits without ETOPS capabilities
Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

At least flying the non-ETOPS route was an option in this case. There are plenty of routes where it would not have been viable. The delays certainly suck, but better than a cancelled flight, I’d say.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
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