LAN Airlines 787 Dreamliner to fly Sydney to Santiago route

LAN Airlines will launch Boeing 787 flights between Sydney and Santiago, Chile from April 18, making it the first airline to use a two-engine aircraft with commercial passengers on the long over-ocean route.

"This announcement marks a milestone moment for LAN Airlines in the Asia Pacific region, as well as the next step in our continued effort and commitment to develop our offering and services in this market," said Patricio Aylwin, managing director Asia Pacific of LATAM Airlines Group.

"With the introduction of the Boeing 787 in early 2015, we will offer more passengers cutting-edge technology and a chance to experience the next generation of aircraft and the future of flying."

LAN's 787 will carry 247 travellers, including 30 business class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration and 217 economy class seats in a 3-3-3 configuration.

The 787 in May was certified for 330 minute extended range twin-operations (ETOPS) by the US Federal Aviation Administration, meaning it could be five and a half hours from the nearest suitable landing strip in the case one of the engines failed.

However, it is up to individual national aviation regulators to decide whether an airline is qualified to do so.

To date, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority has not approved ETOPS operations beyond 180 minutes for two-engine aircraft, although it is not clear that it has received an application from an Australian carrier to do so.

That means that remote routes, such as Australia to South Africa and Australia to South America flown by Australian carriers for the most part have used four-engine aircraft to allow for the shortest-possible route.

Sydney-Santiago is not possible with 180 minute ETOPS. It could be flown with 240 minute ETOPS but only when Easter Island's airstrip is available for landings, which isn't always the case.

Qantas uses a four-engine 747 on the Sydney-Santiago and Sydney-Johannesburg routes, while South African Airways uses a four-engine A340 from Perth to Johannesburg and LAN currently uses an A340 from Sydney to Santiago via Auckland.

Virgin Australia used a two-engine 777 on its short-lived services between Sydney and Johannesburg, but that required extra flying time to ensure it remained close enough to a diversion aircraft.

More recently, Airbus flew its new two-engine A350 with test pilots on a route-proving flight from Sydney to Santiago via Auckland in August.

In October, European regulators approved the new aircraft for 370 minute ETOPS in some conditions.

LAN operates daily one-stop flights between Sydney and Santiago via Auckland, providing onward connections to over 115 destinations in South America.

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