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On Tuesday, Southwest Airlines will launch the Federal Aviation Administration certification flights between mainland US and Hawaii, airline confirmed to SFGate on Monday.
"We can confirm that Southwest is slated to execute a wide range of navigation and communication validation flights from Oakland to Honolulu on Tuesday, February 5, excluding any unforeseen changes," said Southwestern spokesman Brian Parrish.
The flights are the final stage of the airline's efforts to get a federal approval to launch passenger flights between California and the Hawaiian Islands, a process that began in late 2017. Southwest does not announce pricing or schedules until it receives FAA certification.
These flights are not passenger aircraft – the only people on board will be the airline's employees and the United States will visit inspectors who will certify southwest for the flight.
A Southwest Boeing 737-800 is scheduled to depart Oakland Airport on Tuesday morning tied to Honolulu, Oahu in what is the first "evidence flight" to show the FAA that the carrier can safely operate its jets for longer periods of time . (Flights from the mainland to Hawaii run at about 2,500 miles and 5 hours of flight time.)
These proven flights are one of the last steps to the southwest in FAA's ETOPS (Extended Range Twin Engine Operational Performance Standards) certification process.
"If we successfully pass this next phase, we will move into tabletop exercises with the FAA to demonstrate our full ETOPS procedures followed by ETOPS validation flights," Parrish said. "Once we have passed all phases of the ETOPS application process to the FAA's satisfaction and receive our ETOPS approval, we will announce additional details of the time of sale and operation of flights."
The airline must demonstrate to a team of FAA inspectors aboard these flights its fleet of Boeing 737s can safely fly on only one engine for extended periods of time to the nearest suitable airport in case of engine failure over a sea. Southwest also needs to successfully demonstrate that it can respond to simulated flight emergencies.
According to insiders, there will be more evidence between Oakland and the Hawaiian Islands in the coming days, including at least one that will simulate a diversion. 19659021] The airline has told us that it will not announce routing, sales and Rapid Rewards redemption rates until it receives federal approval to begin Hawaii flights. Southwest Airlines expects to start flights within a few weeks of putting them on sale, which is abnormal in the airline industry, as new routes are traditionally announced months in advance to drum the public.
Southwest announced in 2018, it intends to offer flights from four California cities: Oakland, San Jose, Sacramento and San Diego. In Hawaii, Southwest will serve: Honolulu on Oahu, Kahului on Maui, Lihue on Kauai and Kona on the Big Island. There will also be mid-island flights between these cities in Hawaii.
For Southwest, it may not be necessary to do much marketing for these highly anticipated Hawaiian flights, especially with its large base of frequent flyers in California eager to burn Fast Rewards points to a trip to Hawaii. Southwest already has a landing page on its website ready to load campaigns – see it here.
In southwestern countries, it has become a long process that was interrupted by the partial government termination to come to these ETOPS-proof runs. The process was sidelined for about a month when the FAA ETOPS inspectors were highlighted, and the remaining two phases of certification (table training exercises and these ETOPS validation flights) were put into hiatus at the end of December.
Southwest executives said the company took a $ 10 – $ 15 million financial hit from the government interruption, mainly from the absence of federal government officials.
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