In a potentially dangerous mix-up, American Airlines accidentally flew an uncertified airbus plane with hundreds of passengers on board across the Pacific Ocean, according to a media report today.
On August 31, Airbus A321-S which was not authorised to fly long distances over open water made the flight to Honolulu around 4108 kms approximately, instead of the correct aircraft A321-H.
According to American spokesman Casey Norton, “someone on the ground” realised the mix-up sometime after AA Flight 31 had departed Los Angeles International Airport on August 31, filled with passengers and crew.
The plane that made the trip is the same plane as the one that was supposed to make it, an Airbus A321H, aside from having an “ETOPS” certification, which requires the plane to carry additional equipment.
“Somebody screwed up big-time, somewhere,” an American Airlines pilot, who is not authorised to speak on the record, was quoted as saying by CNN.
As the two planes are equipped with the same engine, fuel tanks, range and basic safety features but A321-H is used for long flights which comes with more medical supplies and safety features.
“When we realised what happened, we immediately notified the FAA and began a thorough review of our procedures,” Norton said.
“Already, we have revised our software to properly identify the correct aircraft are operating the correct routes.”
Hawaii-bound aircraft are required by the FAA to have extra fire suppression equipment in the cargo hold and extra medical equipment on board, including oxygen — since there are no points in between for an aircraft to divert to if there is an on board emergency.
The pilot explained that maintenance crews have to sign off on all extended operation certified equipment on any long-range aicrcraft and have a checklist of items that they have to go through and approve before a plane is certified to fly.
The return flight on that aircraft was cancelled, and the plane was flown back to Los Angeles International Airport with just a minimal crew on board.