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A recent AA flight to Hawaii was not ETOPS rated.
(alternate article)

Apparently the failures that led to this mistake occurred on multiple levels, including the schedulers who scheduled this equipment, and the dispatcher who may have prepped the flight plan.

My question is if the crew had a means and responsibility to know if the plane was ETOPS certified? Would there be a placard for similar indicator in the cockpit stating "ETOPS allowed" (or perhaps "No ETOPS allowed")?

Are parts of the checklist different for ETOPS/non-ETOPS aircraft? Can the crew reasonably expect to fly whatever plane they're assigned without checking over every piece of the certification, maintenance, and dispatch?

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  • $\begingroup$ I had to subscribe to read the article you cited. Is it possible to find a source for the article that is not behind a subscription wall? $\endgroup$ – ROIMaison Sep 14 '15 at 15:41
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    $\begingroup$ cnn.com/2015/09/13/politics/… $\endgroup$ – woakley5 Sep 14 '15 at 15:43
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    $\begingroup$ If it isn't required, I bet that they will start doing it now! $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Sep 14 '15 at 15:59
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    $\begingroup$ @JPhi1618: That is, assuming you trust a major news source to report aviation news accurately. They frequently get factual points wrong. $\endgroup$ – abelenky Sep 14 '15 at 19:06
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    $\begingroup$ @abelenky Heh, that's very true. Here I would be expecting them to report aviation facts as well as software/computer facts. That's like a perfect storm for a misleading/incorrect quote. Didn't think about it that way. $\endgroup$ – JPhi1618 Sep 14 '15 at 19:54
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According to FAA §25.1535 Appendix K,

The airplane flight manual must contain the following information applicable to the ETOPS type design approval:

(b) Required markings or placards.

(e) This statement: “The type-design reliability and performance of this airplane-engine combination has been evaluated under 14 CFR 25.1535 and found suitable for (identify maximum approved diversion time) extended operations (ETOPS) when the configuration, maintenance, and procedures standard contained in (identify the CMP document) are met. The actual maximum approved diversion time for this airplane may be less based on its most limiting system time capability. This finding does not constitute operational approval to conduct ETOPS.”

It does not require any identification marking on the aircraft itself, though as @woakley5 noted above, a number of aircraft do have them identifying the aircraft as ETOPS certified, like below.

777 ETOPS

Source: www.thaiflight.com

I'm not sure about if any indications are there in cockpit (there are no regulatory requirements, till today that is), but won't be surprised if it is available (in some aircraft, at least).

The ETOPS do have some additional checks. According to Appendix G to Part 135,

(This) This ETOPS maintenance program must include the following elements:

(b) ETOPS pre-departure service check. The certificate holder must develop a pre-departure check tailored to their specific operation.

(1) The certificate holder must complete a pre-departure service check immediately before each ETOPS flight.

(2) At a minimum, this check must:

(i) Verify the condition of all ETOPS Significant Systems;

(ii) Verify the overall status of the airplane by reviewing applicable maintenance records; and

(iii) Include an interior and exterior inspection to include a determination of engine and APU oil levels and consumption rates.

I'm not sure how the AA Flight 31 Flight and ground crew missed these checks.

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  • $\begingroup$ Unless I am missing something (I'm no expert), none of those checks fundamentally sound like something that could not be done on a Non-ETOPS plane of the same model. After all, those same ETOPS significant systems would be in place on the non-certified planes. I'd imaging the maintenance records and fuel checks may be basically the same too. If there was no "Check for the ETOPS decal" step in the pre-flight service check, it seems quite feasible that the plane passed those checks without noticing it was not certified. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Cathcart Sep 14 '15 at 18:57
  • $\begingroup$ It does not require any identification marking on the aircraft itself Then what does (b) Required markings or placards mean? $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Sep 14 '15 at 19:17
  • $\begingroup$ @TomMcW The markings or placards are supposed to be in Flight Manual, while the question asked about markings in cockpit. $\endgroup$ – aeroalias Sep 14 '15 at 22:24
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    $\begingroup$ @aeroalias Generally the term "placards" refers to things that are required to be labeled in the cockpit (often in a specific location or "in full view of the pilot(s)") - the placards are listed in the POH (or AFM), but if the sticker/plate is not present in the cockpit the placard is missing (and the aircraft is technically not airworthy). e.g. the Piper Cherokee requires a placard "adjacent to upper door latch" which says ENGAGE LATCH BEFORE FLIGHT, and one "in full view of the pilot" with Va (maneuvering speed) on it. $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Sep 15 '15 at 6:37
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ETOPS aircraft usually will have an indication on the front nose gear doors like this picture.

I believe that an indication is given in the cockpit also on some type of aircraft info placard but I have no image to back this up. I am certain that the airlines dispatch computer system will have some sort of tag as to whether an aircraft is ETOPS rated.

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    $\begingroup$ Should the crew be looking for that indicator on their preflight? $\endgroup$ – abelenky Sep 14 '15 at 15:56
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    $\begingroup$ +1 on @abelenky comment. What is the purpose of ETOPS marking outside the flight deck? $\endgroup$ – mins Sep 14 '15 at 20:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Martin The aircraft is painted in the livery of US Airways who, along with many airlines, paint a key part of the aircraft's registration on the nose doors for ease of identification. This is probably Boeing 757 N940UW $\endgroup$ – user11516 Oct 12 '15 at 1:13
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    $\begingroup$ @woakley5: I doubt that a 757 can stay in flight for 940 minutes... $\endgroup$ – Reinstate Monica - M. Schröder Oct 12 '15 at 5:15
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    $\begingroup$ Sure it can, @MartinSchröder, it's one of those new ones certified for in-flight refueling, right? ;) $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Oct 12 '15 at 15:26
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DGCA India CAR Section 8 Series C Part I Para 5.1.2 (h) states: "A procedure is to be established, through cock-pit placard / external marking, to indicate to maintenance and flight crew EDTO status of the aeroplane"

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