A Southwest Airlines jet is seen in Hawaii for the first time ever on February 5, 2018, after the Boeing 737-800 landed in Honolulu as part of the carrier's approval process with the FAA to provide future scheduled service to state. (Photo: Southwest Airlines)
Southwest Airlines' first ever Hawaii departure is scheduled to leave Honolulu International Airport for Dallas Love Field at 2:10 am. ET (9:10 am local time) on Wednesday.
Southwest Flight 8725 marks the return of the plane that the airline flew from Oakland, California, to Honolulu one day earlier. The plane, Southwest's first to the state of Hawaii, served as a proven aircraft as part of Southwest's attempt to secure the "ETOPS" certification it needs from the Federal Aviation Administration to operate Long-haul flights with its Boeing 737 tomotor jet.
The plane had no paying passengers, only FAA representatives and Southwest pilots and staff who helped with the certification work. Tuesday's "validation flight" was focused on long-distance navigation and communication procedures, part of the authorization process.
But it did not keep Southwest from greeting the plane with fanfare in a ceremony complete with Hawaiian leis and group photos. Even the Southwest Boeing 737 makes the plane received a gigantic tired.
Southwest wrote a picture of arrival, showing his Boeing 737 with the iconic Diamond Head peak near Waikiki Beach rising in the background.
"Do you see it? That's how it looks when a Southwest bird lands in Hawaii!" Southwest said via social media .
Now, Southwest is set to fly the plane from Hawaii – and all the way back to Texas – as it continues its flight testing and certification process that it must complete before it can provide service to the state.
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While the Boeing 737s fly regularly between Hawaii and the United States West Coast, non-stop to Texas is unusually long flight.
"Validation attempts are being carried out in the air space between Hawaii and the mainland," Swedish spokesman Brian Parrish said to the United States TODAY's Today in the Sky blog. "Due to favorable tailwinds and a lightweight airplane load today, conditions allow us to fly ETOPS 737-800 non-stop to our home at Love Field."
For the who wants to read the tea leaves, let Parrish know that the plane to Dallas "does not show any service intentions beyond those we have already announced."
Southwest has already announced where to fly when the Hawaii service begins and says it plans offering routes connecting four airports in California (Oakland, San Diego, San Jose and Sacramento) to four in Hawaii (Honolulu on Oahu, Lihue on Kauai, Kahului on Maui and Kona on Hawaii "Big Island").
When that service can begin,
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Southwest had already been in the process To ensure its required ETOPS certification, however, the effort received an unexpected delay from the federal government closure as furloughed federal workers, including FAA inspectors.
Speaking during the airline's earnings call at the end of January, Kelly said he expected the airline to be in able to begin Hawaii flights about six to eight weeks after the FAA approval process resumed. Prior to the shutdown, he said that Southwest was aiming for a February 1 start-up, even though it never published that date.
He then suggested that if the termination ended within a week – as it did – the airline could begin passenger airplanes in mid-March, but a potential problem area is that A deadline is expected later this month for another possible closure.
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Currently, Southwest continues its efforts to secure the certification that will allow that 737s fly between the US mainland and Hawaii. The Extended Range, Twin Engine Operational Performance Standards (CA) certification is standard for airlines wishing to distribute tomotor planes on long waterways where departures are scarce.
As aviation technology has advanced in recent decades, certification has become commonplace. From the mainland in the United States, it is often used for multiple jets that make long-distance transoceanic routes to Europe and Asia. For Hawaii aircraft, many US airlines already have ETOPS certification to fly Narrow Air to and from the state.
While many of their American rivals already have the certification, Southwest efforts to seek it are a new development. Since its launch in 1971, the operator flew only in the mainland for over 40 years. But it changed in 2014 when Southwest began flying to several destinations in the Caribbean. It has since expanded its footprint to include Mexico and Costa Rica, but none of these flights require ETOPS certification. However, with the planned Hawaii service, Southwest has finally been granted approval for the ETOPS service.
Contributor: Dawn Gilbertson
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