Verification flights for the long-awaited Southwest Airlines ETOPS certification have finally concluded. Now it should be just a matter of weeks if not days before the airline received their ETOPS certification, as all of the hard work has been completed.
This marks one of the last hurdles in the arduous, time-consuming process Southwest has had to follow. The ETOPS certification is required to launch flights to Hawaii, something which should have already happened. With very few steps left, it is hoped that flights will be on sale before you know it!
Longer Than Anticipated
The process of launching flights to Hawaii has taken Southwest Airlines a lot longer than they originally anticipated. The plan was that flights would initially launch back in October, however, a series of setbacks pushed this back. First to around New Year time, and now the time frame is undisclosed.
One of the key things that significantly pushed back the ETOPS approval process was the US Government Shutdown. The FAA is responsible for issuing ETOPS approvals in America. However, as the government was shut down, only essential employees were kept at work. This, unfortunately, did not include the staff working on Southwest’s ETOPS approval.
ETOPS Approval is required when aircraft want to fly further away from diversion airports. When an airline receives ETOPS certification, it means that the issuing authority is confident that the aircraft involved would be able to fly on one engine for an extended period of time.
This is crucial for flights on routes such as Hawaii. Flying from the contiguous United States to Hawaii is mostly over water with very little options to divert. As such, during the approval process, the FAA will have been looking at everything from Southwest’s maintenance records to how emergencies are dealt with in flight.
Now, very little remains before Southwest’s Hawaii flights should launch. The FAA is clearly satisfied with what they’ve seen from Southwest Airlines. We know this from the fact that the airline has so far passed every step in the process.
Only the final stage of the ETOPS certification process still remains. Southwest Airlines is currently conversing with the FAA regarding this. In a statement, the airline told Simple Flying: “We’ve completed ETOPS validation flights last Tuesday. We are now continuing our dialogue with the FAA to receive their feedback so that we may complete the final phase of the ETOPS application process to their satisfaction.”
It is understood that Southwest Airlines has completed all of the necessary preparations to launch the route once certification is secured. This means that once the FAA has given the green light, services will go on sale almost instantly.
When do you think Southwest will announce Hawaii flights are on sale? Let us know in the comments down below!