American Airlines admitted today that a plane it used for a flight from Los Angeles to Hawaii last month was not certified to fly an extended trip over the water.
On August 31, American Airlines Flight 31 took off from Los Angeles International Airport and landed safely at Honolulu International Airport. However, the airplane was not ETOPS (Extended Range Operation with Two-Engine Airplanes) certified and therefore wasn't approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to travel over the Pacific, the airline said today.
"When we realized what happened, we immediately notified the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] and began a thorough review of our procedures," American Airlines told ABC News in a statement. "Already, we have revised our software to properly identify the correct aircraft are operating the correct routes."
"American's A321S flies over water regularly for many missions, but is not ETOPS-certified, which is required by the FAA for American's Hawaiian flights," the airline's statement added. "The A321S is equipped with four slide-rafts (one at each corner of the aircraft) and one portable raft in addition to life vests and seat cushions that can serve as flotation devices."
ABC News aviation consultant John Nance said ETOPS certification really means the plane has "all the bells and whistles." Nance said he would tell the passengers on this flight that they "were in no real danger" and there was no more risk than on any other flight.
"Yes, this is a serious mistake, this is what American self-disclosed ... [but] in practical terms, it's the same airplane," Nance said.
The FAA told ABC News it is looking into the incident. The FAA declined to comment further.