Thanks to two tips from Beat of Hawaii readers, we learned of a Hawaii flight diversion that until now has gone unreported. Interestingly, some diversions remain completely under the radar.
The problem was reportedly due to a problem with one of the two engines on the aircraft. This was United Flight 348 on Saturday, May 20, 2023, a plane similar to the upcoming Hawaiian Airlines Dreamliner albeit a different variant.
Flight 348 departed Maui at 734 PM and was due to arrive in Chicago, a distance of 4,178 miles. However, the plane departed Maui more than two hours late for unknown reasons, although other aircraft appeared to operate timely. Instead of flying to Chicago, the plane reported the problem and diverted to the nearest airport from Maui, which is San Francisco. They arrived there at 3:23 AM local time. The flight was then canceled, and passengers were presumably accommodated on other United flights.
Christina G. first alerted us to the diversion when she said, “We were on a United flight from Maui (OGG) bound for Chicago that diverted to SFO due to a single engine failure on May 20th. (Boeing 787). Scary to have this happen over the Pacific ocean!”
David D. confirmed the problem when he said, “You missed a recent diversion. I was on a flight on May 20, 2023 from Maui to Chicago that diverted to SFO due to engine problems. The pilot announced he had to shut down one of the engines because it was “misbehaving” and that we needed to land at the nearest airport. We were almost two hours away from the coast.”
Clearly, twin-engine aircraft are designed for just this kind of problem. All flights between the mainland and Hawaii are on planes with just two engines. ETOPS or extended operations required on flights to Hawaii involve a series of measures that provide added safety when flying over water, like to Hawaii, where there are no diversion airports in an emergency. Twin-engine Hawaii flights have been the norm for two decades.
Etops and Hawaii flights: Hawaii Has the World’s Longest Over-Water Flights.
Prior Hawaii flight diversion caused by primary flight control problem.
Last week’s other United Airlines Hawaii flight diversion was the result of a rudder problem onboard UA Flight 2380 from San Francisco to Honolulu, a Boeing 757-300 with 223 passengers plus 7 crew members. The rudder is a primary flight control surface associated with rotation about the vertical axis of the airplane. The captain reported the emergency when he changed his transponder to emergency code 7700. The FAA is investigating the incident.
Last week’s two United Hawaii flight diversions followed many other recent diversions, including this recent Southwest one.
We reported another over-water Hawaii flight diversion on May 15. That was on a Southwest flight that suffered a shattered windshield en route from Honolulu to San Diego, resulting in a diversion back to Honolulu since the plane had not yet reached the halfway point between Hawaii and the mainland.