Flying 900 Miles From Hawaii On One Engine

Do you recall that Air Canada incident en route from Hawaii about a year ago, when a fire broke out in the onboard kitchen?

Now, an Air Canada flight en route from Honolulu to Calgary has reported an emergency due to loss of engine oil pressure and quality. They shut down one of the 767’s two engines, descended to a lower altitude, and diverted to Vancouver. Once again, this event took place at nearly the worst possible point, when the flight was mid-Pacific, two hours from the nearest land-fall. Aviation Herald reported the incident which took place on January 6.

The Air Canada flight was able to fly 900 miles using only one engine.

ETOPS in Hawaii

The incident speaks to the importance of ETOPS, the increased fault-tolerance system now in use for twin-engine aircraft flying to Hawaii (and elsewhere). ETOPS allows planes, like the 767 in question, as well as the 757’s and 737’s typically flown to and from Hawaii, to operate routes previously off-limits to twin-engine aircraft.

In the future, ETOPS may be replaced by the newer LROPS or “Long Range Operational Performance Standards”, which will affect all airliners.

ETOPS is multi-faceted. The aircraft must satisfy ETOPS requirements. An airline which conducts ETOPS flights must satisfy its own country’s aviation regulators about their ability to fly ETOPS. Pilots and engineers must also be qualified and trained for ETOPS.

Of interest, airlines which have extensive experience operating long distance flights (consider Southwest) can be awarded ETOPS operational approval immediately, while other approvals (consider Allegiant) may take longer including a need to further demonstrate ETOPS ability.


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6 thoughts on “Flying 900 Miles From Hawaii On One Engine”

  1. Flying across the USA doesn’t count. ETOPS refers to flying over long expanses where alternate landing facility is not available. Most of these involved flying over oceans, deserts, mountain ranges and over the North Pole.

    1. Hi Shew,

      Thanks for your comment. Information I’ve seen said carriers experienced with long distance flights may receive ETOPS certification more easily. Southwest qualifies in that regard.

      Aloha, Jeff

  2. Whoa, James: there’s no comparison in a fully boarded flight over water (think Capt. Sullenburger) and riding a local bus. I can opt to drive myself over a highway; there’s no such choice crossing the Pacific. Just like I prefer to have government food inspection to being poisoned by meat and produce of unknown origin, I want government to train and inspect flight crews who are getting me from point A to point B.

  3. We are talking 1 incident here and thousands of flights. How stupid is this anyway. They are going to price the Airlines out of business at this rate. This is like taking all busses off the road if one crashes into a ditch. Common sense and Government just don’t mix. James

    1. Doug,

      They’ve been flying trans-continental for about 10 years. Providence and Baltimore to Las Vegas are two examples.

      Aloha, Jeff

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