American Airline accidentally flies wrong plane from LA to Hawaii

Updated: September 14, 2015
American Airline accidentally flies wrong plane from LA to Hawaii

American Airlines accidently sent the wrong plane across the ocean from Los Angeles to Hawaii, a company spokesman confirmed to AFP Sunday.

The error, on 31 August, was spotted midway through the flight but a decision was made to continue on to Hawaii.

The airline then cancelled the return flight and the empty aircraft was flown back to Los Angeles.

Aviation blogger Brian Summers first reported the mistake, which occurred just days after American Airlines began flying Airbus A321 planes on the route.

Aircraft that fly along routes more than 120 minutes from an emergency or diversion airport are required to have Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards (ETOPS) certification.

The certification, which is based on the assumption that one of the aircraft’s engines would be inoperative, also calls for planes to be equipped with extra oxygen and a fire suppression canister.

Casey Norton, a spokesman for American Airlines, told The Washington Post: “Immediately when we realised what happened, we notified the FAA and we are working and fully co-operating with them.

“We also have an ongoing, thorough review of our policies and procedures.

“When we noticed it, we immediately undertook an internal investigation, and we alerted the FAA.

“We are checking our internal procedures, everything that led up to the departure.

“We are going to figure out what we can do better. We have gone back and made some changes to software systems.”

The error is a major violation of federal aviation guidelines. It was not clear what caused it.

The process of getting ETOPS certification is complicated, and airlines do not generally do so for aircraft that do not fly on long routes over water.

American Airlines has two types of A321s: the A321H which can fly to Hawaii and the A321S which cannot.