See the Pictures: Southwest's First Hawaii Test Flight Lands in Honolulu
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Southwest Airlines' first test flight in its quest to launch routes to Hawaii landed at Honolulu's Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) Tuesday afternoon local time.
The Boeing 737-800 was being tested as part of the Extended Range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards (ETOPS) certification process with the Federal Aviation Administration to launch flights over oceans. There were only FAA inspectors and Southwest ETOPS crew on the flight.
Flight WN8275 landed at HNL at 2:50pm local time after taking off from California's Oakland International Airport (OAK). When the plane stopped on the tarmac, Honolulu's iconic Diamond Head volcanic cone was visible off in the distance.
Southwest employees greeted the 738 with Hawaiian leis and group cheer.
The airline even had a local cultural practitioner, Kalama Cabigon, to give the aircraft a Hawaiian blessing.
It seems like everything on the flight, which was to demonstrate in real life Southwest’s long-range navigation and communication procedures and equipment, went according to plan. Though, that is officially for the FAA to decide.
Next up in the certification process after Tuesday’s test flight, the carrier needs to perform more tabletop exercises with the FAA to demonstrate its full ETOPS procedures followed by additional ETOPS validation flights.
But it seems that Southwest will not begin selling Hawaii tickets until all the ETOPS steps have been successfully completed.
“Once we pass all phases of the ETOPS application process to the satisfaction of the FAA and receive our ETOPS authorization,” an airlnie spokesperson told TPG, “we will announce further details of timing for selling and operating flights.”
As TPG's Summer Hull reported in January, Southwest said to expect roughly a six-week to two-month window from when the FAA resumed the ETOPS process after the government reopened to when Hawaii operations can begin. So if that holds true, that would mean the airline’s Hawaii flights will be taking off with passengers sometime in very late March or April.
With Hawaii coming closer and closer into range with Southwest, it could be a good idea to apply for one of the Southwest cobranded credit cards.
All photos by Marco Garcia/The Points Guy.