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Oops! AA flys AA31 LAX-HNL 31 Aug '15 with Airbus 321S, not ETOPS 321H

Oops! AA flys AA31 LAX-HNL 31 Aug '15 with Airbus 321S, not ETOPS 321H

 
Old Sep 7, 15, 4:05 pm
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Oops! AA flys AA31 LAX-HNL 31 Aug '15 with Airbus 321S, not ETOPS 321H

Anyone fly on AA31 (LAX-HNL) on 8/31? Apparently, it was accidentally flown with a non-ETOPS 321 and the return flight (AA162) had to be cancelled. Oops!
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Old Sep 7, 15, 5:05 pm
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Apparently, it was accidentally flown with a non-ETOPS 321 and the return flight (AA162) had to be cancelled. Oops!
"What do you mean you can only fly some of them over water?"

I sense a really embarrassing FAA fine and a new large-font line item on the improved pre-flight checklist. Not to mention dispatchers and pilots having a finger-pointing contest.

"Verify tail number appears on this list."

"Now have the other pilot independently verify the tail number appears on this list."

"Since this is really important have the person driving the tug verify the tail number is on this list."

Last edited by jayer; Sep 7, 15 at 5:13 pm
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Old Sep 7, 15, 5:32 pm
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Originally Posted by jjglaze77 View Post
Anyone fly on AA31 (LAX-HNL) on 8/31? Apparently, it was accidentally flown with a non-ETOPS 321 and the return flight (AA162) had to be cancelled. Oops!
How does that happen accidentally?

Even the pilots should have caught that one if nobody else did. Like when they do their quick around-the-plane spot checks. And they notice the ETOPS marking is not there on the forward landing gear.
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Old Sep 7, 15, 5:48 pm
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Originally Posted by Fanjet View Post
How does that happen accidentally?

Even the pilots should have caught that one if nobody else did. Like when they do their quick around-the-plane spot checks. And they notice the ETOPS marking is not there on the forward landing gear.
Yes, I suspect the pilot should have caught it. Maybe he was looking for a ferry flight home earlier than scheduled, or a longer layover while they got a special flight approved?

Just lucky nothing happened during the flight. Imagine the liability claims for something like that! I doubt their insurance would cover that. Just like car policies don't cover damage from illegal use.
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Old Sep 7, 15, 5:48 pm
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Originally Posted by jjglaze77 View Post
Anyone fly on AA31 (LAX-HNL) on 8/31? Apparently, it was accidentally flown with a non-ETOPS 321 and the return flight (AA162) had to be cancelled. Oops!
The 7734 you say! That's going to be a black mark against a number of people. I can't imagine how that occurred.

Now they'll have to ferry that aircraft back, not anywhere nearly as big a deal as flying a plane load against prevailing winds on a A321S with standard tankage and equipment, MEL, no ETOPS certification. Crikey, that's bad!
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Old Sep 7, 15, 6:37 pm
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It was ship N137AA which is registered as a non ETOPS plane. I just can't imagine how this could even happen.
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Old Sep 7, 15, 7:33 pm
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I actually find this really really funny...

It's amazing how many people had to screw up for this to actually happen.
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Old Sep 7, 15, 7:38 pm
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Originally Posted by cmd320 View Post
I actually find this really really funny...

It's amazing how many people had to screw up for this to actually happen.
This is so classical it could be part of a groupthink error study. Pilot, First Officer, IOPS - Dispatch, ground crew... Thank goodness there was no harm.
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Old Sep 7, 15, 7:50 pm
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Originally Posted by JDiver View Post
This is so classical it could be part of a groupthink error study. Pilot, First Officer, IOPS - Dispatch, ground crew... Thank goodness there was no harm.
Indeed. I mean, to be fair, I believe it's just a matter of certification, otherwise the A321S and A321H are identical aircraft, but still. Major fines likely coming AA's way once the FAA sifts through the case.
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Old Sep 7, 15, 8:07 pm
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Originally Posted by JDiver View Post
This is so classical it could be part of a groupthink error study. Pilot, First Officer, IOPS - Dispatch, ground crew... Thank goodness there was no harm.
I guess that's one instance where a manual safety demo might've saved the day.

"An additional life raft is located in a ceiling compart... oh, %[email protected]#%!"
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Old Sep 7, 15, 9:35 pm
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Originally Posted by rjw242 View Post
I guess that's one instance where a manual safety demo might've saved the day.

"An additional life raft is located in a ceiling compart... oh, %[email protected]#%!"
Presumably the safety video in the IFE system didn't mention it so no passenger would have spotted the error either. I usually look up to see where it is. At present they aren't scheduled on LAX-LIH until after we make the trip.
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Old Sep 7, 15, 10:51 pm
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Originally Posted by cmd320 View Post
Indeed. I mean, to be fair, I believe it's just a matter of certification, otherwise the A321S and A321H are identical aircraft, but still. Major fines likely coming AA's way once the FAA sifts through the case.
Not exactly, as I understand it. There are two facets of ETOPS certification.

The first is the aircraft type must be tested and approved - A320 family aircraft are ETOPS-180 certified from this side.

The second is the airline must convince the FAA of their ability to conduct ETOPS flights safely and gain ETOPS operational certification. This includes more rigorous preventive maintenance schedules, as well as certified mechanics and flight crew.

The "H" is said to have extra tankage, though I've not seen it documented, and it definitely has safety equipment (e.g. rafts) and an enhanced maintenance schedule for certification.

I flew on Aloha 737-200 that were ETOPS certified (weirdly enough) and the maintenance schedule was more rigorous.

Alaska operates a subfleet of 737-800s that are ETOPS certified; these are the ones that fly to Hawaii, and can be discerned from non-ETOPS certified aircraft by the "ETOPS" on the nose gear door and the flower lei under the Eskimo portrait depicted on the tail.


Maybe AA should paint a two meter wide gold band on the forward fuselage of their ETOPS A320 family aircraft; they might be more obvious.

Maybe some fundi at AA still believes ETOPS is the acronym for "Engines Turn Or Passengers Swim"?

The FAA won't be laughing, I suspect.

Last edited by JDiver; Sep 7, 15 at 10:57 pm
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Old Sep 7, 15, 11:13 pm
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Originally Posted by JDiver View Post
This is so classical it could be part of a groupthink error study. Pilot, First Officer, IOPS - Dispatch, ground crew... Thank goodness there was no harm.
I agree, thank goodness it did not lead to any problems.

Since all ended well, this may be inflammatory, but some elements remind me of Asiana...

"
The NTSB met June 24 to rule on a cause of the July 2013 accident, saying the crew "over-relied on automated systems that they did not fully understand" and citing mismanagement as key factors in the accident. Pilots were confused whether an automated system was maintaining speed.

'Pilots must understand and command automation, not become over-reliant on it. The pilot must always be the boss.'
– Christopher Hart, acting NTSB chairman

"
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Old Sep 7, 15, 11:32 pm
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From the pilot forum that I follow, it sounds like the Captain received his IOE (Initial Operating Experience) in an A319 in the Central America/Caribbean division which would qualify him to fly an ETOPS route, but would not necessarily prepare him thoroughly for the ins/outs of ETOPS. It's possible this was to be his first time on board the A321H airplane and without knowing about the "ETOPS" on the nosewheel (or on the logbook), how would he know it was missing? According to the forum, there is no mention of this visual cue anywhere in the operating manuals (which are approved by the FAA). As has been said, there are many links in the chain that seem to have failed in this instance, so I don't think it's fair to place the lions share of the blame on the Captain. How many people were involved in getting that jet scheduled to fly that route before the Captain was even at the airport?

I'm glad everything turned out OK ^
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Old Sep 8, 15, 12:28 am
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Originally Posted by jjglaze77 View Post
As has been said, there are many links in the chain that seem to have failed in this instance, so I don't think it's fair to place the lions share of the blame on the Captain. How many people were involved in getting that jet scheduled to fly that route before the Captain was even at the airport?
Aviation safety these days generally means that accidents require multiple things to go wrong. The real concern here is that it looks like that happened here, and it also appears that some pretty important processes involved in dispatching broke.

Originally Posted by jjglaze77 View Post
I'm glad everything turned out OK ^
Realistically, so long as there was enough fuel on board, there was likely no problem - I doubt they were even close to low on fuel on approach. US has been flying non-wingletted A321s on PHL-SFO for more than a dozen years - 2,521 miles as the crow flies - without trouble, and even during the worst of winter headwinds they fuel stop way less than the A320s. LAX-HNL is about 2,555 miles, and this plane also has winglets for better range/lower fuel burn.

N137AA was delivered on June 20, so I guess it's new enough to be Hawaii assigned, but its flying pattern shows that it's not an A321H, with this "accidental" trip to HNL being the only time it's ventured into the Pacific: https://flightaware.com/live/flight/N137AA
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