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Easter Island

Old 7th Feb 2013, 00:25
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Easter Island

Most of the flights to Easter Island are to/from Santiago (5 hrs flying time). A couple a week to Lima and one or two to Tahiti. However you look at it it's a long way from anywhere, there are no obvious alternates other than the three originating points (except, I suppose, some mainland airports should Santiago close).

I recognise this is ETOPs territory so that element doesn't worry me. I'm more interested in how you plan such a flight. If it's feasible do you carry enough fuel to go all the way and then continue to an alternate (I reckone a 767 might just be able to do that) or do you carry enough for the distance plus standard allowances (that term almost sounds irrelevant) and have a decision point somewhere en route which says if Easter Island is closed turn around? The flight to Tahiti got to Easter Island yesterday from Santiago but it sat at Easter Island because of storms over Tahiti (apparently).

I'm intrigued.
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Old 7th Feb 2013, 02:18
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Not sure how the exact operators plan, but usually there is the option, in lieu of an alternate, of carrying extra holding fuel up to 2 hours. Of course, the forecast has to be acceptable and probably better than the usual. I went there and we planned 2 hours of holding--weather was clear and breezy as it mostly is. In the USAF, we could do the same except for high latitudes and the Aleutians where we had to have an alternate, PAED usually.

Also, the Chilean CAA has a policy that only 1 aircraft can be operating between the ETPs from the mainland or to Tahiti. IOW, once inbound from Taihit and past the ETP, an aircraft cannot be released from Chile until the airborne has landed. Or, if you depart Easter Island for the mainland, the flight has to be past the ETP and committed to landing on the mainland before another flight will allowed airborne or past its ETP and committed to land at Easter Island. One t a time.
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Old 7th Feb 2013, 06:22
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In a previous life we were planning DC8 (four engines I know) freighters in/out of Easter and, whilst my brain cells are fading, because the freighters were to be of max weight full of fish heading to/from Japan (via a few intermediary stops) we couldn't possibly carry enought fuel to make it to an alternate from Easter.

As I recall, and as I say brain cells are fading, there was some rule that we carry something like 4 hours of alternate fuel and, basically, "hope for the best".
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Old 7th Feb 2013, 08:46
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There is a term called "Island Holding Fuel" which is sometimes used to cover what other posters have described above.
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Old 7th Feb 2013, 19:32
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Thank you gentlemen. The stand area in front of the terminal seems to have space for just 2 aircraft with a small military presence the other side of the runway with 2 Cessna 337s. That might explain some of the rules about how many aircraft are allowed.
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Old 8th Feb 2013, 10:29
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I understand "Island Holding" can also come into play at Ascension (ASI) in the mid-Atlantic.

Departures from there I believe are also not permitted unless the actuals/forecast indicate that a return (non-precision) could be completed if a problem had to be taken into the air.
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Old 11th Feb 2013, 00:17
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presumably the same rules apply as allowed this incident to happen


This aircraft was beyond the point of return, with no diversion possible
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Old 11th Feb 2013, 09:20
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This will also come into play with the airstrip now under construction on St Helena in the South Atlantic, where the key operation envisaged seems to be an A319 from Cape Town. (1,700 nm). The runway length of 1,550m looks decidedly miserly for such an operation. It's not apparent whether fuel will even be available there or whether round-trip fuel is compulsory.

I wonder how the Cessna 337s got to Easter Island.
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Old 11th Feb 2013, 12:44
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Yes, I wondeed about the 337s. Apparently, when the monthly stores ship arrives, it has to stand off the island and everything is bought ashore in lighters (sp?). The two I saw beached in the tiny harbour were a similar beam to the barges I used to see on the Thames as a child but were significantly shorter with a small wheel/engine house at the stern. I guess the 337s arrived in crates and were (re)assembled.
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Old 11th Feb 2013, 14:24
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I have flown to Easter island (IPC) a couple of times in the last few years. As has already mentioned the planning rules usually allow for something called "Island Reserves" (2 hours holding fuel) to be substituted when an adequate alternate cannot be provided due to the remoteness of the destination.

On both occaissions I flew there, the relatively light payload allowed for a return to the departure airfield or a diversion to another remote alternate, however that was not a planning requirement.

Everything on Easter Island is expensive due to the transportation logistics and fuel is most certainly no exception. It is eyewateringly expensive. For that reason alone most Commercial Air Transport flights would be tankering as much fuel inbound as possible. However that aside, the flight planning rules outlined above, would normally enable the flight to be undertaken.
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