LONDON – Southwest Airlines has completed its first Hawaii test flight as part of gaining ETOPs approval for services to the island.

The Extended Range Twin-Engine Operational Performance (ETOPS) certification process needs to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration if any of these operations are to go ahead.

This test has been a long time coming since the government shutdown, which lasted for over a month.

Onboard flight WN8275 were FAA inspectors and Southwest ETOPS crew and not revenue passengers.

The flight operated from Oakland International Airport to Honolulu, landing at 1450L.

Southwest reported that long-range navigation, communication procedures and equipment worked “according to plan” but was officially up to the FAA to decide and give its verdict.

The carrier will now perform more tests with the FAA to demonstrate its certifiable ETOPS procedures are in place followed by additional validation flights across the board.

“Once we pass all phases of the ETOPS application process to the satisfaction of the FAA and receive our ETOPS authorization,” an airline spokesperson said.

“We will announce further details of timing for selling and operating flights.”

It will probably take between six weeks to two months for this ETOPS approval gets certified by the FAA, especially with the institution dealing with the after-effects of the government shutdown.

This means that we could see announcements for Hawaii routes by around March or April.

As mentioned by a spokesman for Southwest, “the ETOPS team is on a very aggressive march toward an authorization, allowing us to reach the point of an announcement and share the sequence of our inaugurals”.

It could be a possibility that Oakland will gain the honour as well as other airports in the surrounding areas such as SFO, LAX or LAS etc.

It will be interesting to see which origin airports will get the Hawaii route.