Great circle route between Sydney (SYD) & Dallas (DFW). Route For Qantas 7&8

As this route shows, once the flight exits SYD, then all it has nearby is just the great pacific ocean. In such a situation, if it hits some emergency, what all options would it have, if it wants to land, due to some emergency like a patient on board?

  • 14
    $\begingroup$ as you can see from the map, the ocean is littered with islands, some (including Hawaii, about 2/5 of the way) have airports. If you want a flight that is really far from alternate airports, you want to look here: aviation.stackexchange.com/a/1347/1467 $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    Aug 2, 2015 at 16:30
  • $\begingroup$ You should emphasize the medical emergency case, as almost all technical emergencies are taken into account in the certification process. $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    Aug 5, 2015 at 19:39
  • $\begingroup$ @ManuH "almost". :) $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Aug 20, 2015 at 16:02

2 Answers 2


Although it appears that going from Australia to North America, there is nothing but the great Pacific Ocean underneath. However the truth is (as Federico mentioned) that there are many airports along the way which can allow an A380 to land there, and many more close enough that an A380 can divert to in case of an emergency.

During the early days of this flight (Qantas 8 to be exact), it had to stop at Noumea, New Caledonia for a fuel stop as the pilots thought that it would be safer to do that.

Wikipedia has a list of diversion airports in Pacific. If you turn on the options to view nearby airports on FlightAware and zoom in on the map, you can find many airports.

It should also be noted that not all emergencies require an immediate landing.


There is a standard called ETOPS for two-engines aircraft on which they are certified. It specifies the maximum distance an aircraft can be away from the nearest airport while it flies.

For the A330, ETOPS is 180 minutes / 1,700 nm / 3148 km. It may sounds like a lot of flying in case of an emergency but the aircraft is designed with enough redundancy (2 engines / parallel and backup avionics system).

The standard is more important in case of a two-engines aircraft where losing one engine has more impact than on a four-engines aircraft.


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