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Hawaiian Airlines, renowned for its exceptional service and island hospitality, has established itself as a leading carrier in the Pacific region. Throughout its rich history, the airline has prioritized safety, consistently striving to provide passengers with a seamless and secure travel experience.

While Hawaiian Airlines has an impressive safety record, it has also faced its share of challenges over the years. Understanding these incidents and the airline’s response is crucial for assessing its overall safety performance.

In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the details of Hawaiian Airlines’ safety history, examining notable incidents, the airline’s response, and its ongoing commitment to safety. We will also discuss the factors that contribute to aviation safety and explore the airline’s current safety initiatives.

A Legacy of Safety: Hawaiian Airlines’ Unwavering Commitment

an airplane tail in a plane crash site

A Remarkable Track Record: Hawaiian Airlines’ History of Safe Operations

Hawaiian Airlines has an astounding 99.85% completion factor over its ninety-year history, showcasing an unwavering dedication to safety from the early days of operation in 1929 to the present. Its remarkable safety record places Hawaiian among the global leaders in aviation safety standards.

In 2022 alone, Hawaiian completed over 130 daily flights with only 5 diversions, highlighting the airline’s continual push for enhancing systems, processes and personnel capabilities focused squarely on safety as the number one priority.

Safety at the Heart of Operations: Hawaiian Airlines’ Safety Culture

Hawaiian cemented its pole position in safety culture by becoming one of the first U.S. airlines to establish an independent Safety Management System (SMS) in 2005, years ahead of the eventual FAA mandate.

The program covers key aspects like hazard identification, risk analysis, system monitoring and promoting an open reporting culture. Hawaiian encourages employees to immediately report safety issues without fear of retribution, reflecting its transparency and integrity when it comes to safe operations.

The airline also invests heavily in advanced technologies like computer-based training programs, flight data analysis software, and intensive pilot assessment regimes to stay ahead of the curve on training quality and flight proficiencies.

Continuous Improvement: Hawaiian Airlines’ Commitment to Evolving Safety Standards

While its past safety performance remains exemplary, Hawaiian refuses to rest on its laurels. It continues to evolve by adopting predictive data analytics, emerging best practices, and new regulatory safety enhancements.

Additionally, Hawaiian remains actively engaged with aviation authorities and industry working groups. These collaborative efforts recently brought advancements like the implementation of ADS-B Out technology across its entire fleet for more precise aircraft tracking.

Hawaiian Airlines’ dedication to continuous enhancement of systems and processes cements its position as an industry leader in safety excellence now and for years to come.

Navigating Challenges: Examining Notable Incidents in Hawaiian Airlines’ History

April 1988: Flight 243’s Explosive Decompression Incident

On April 28, 1988, a section of the cabin roof and sides were ripped off of Hawaiian Airlines Flight 243, a Boeing 737-200, leading to explosive decompression at 24,000 feet. Miraculously, despite the damage and a terrifying ordeal, only one flight attendant was seriously injured in the incident.

Thanks to the skilled response of the pilots and crew, who executed an emergency landing in Maui just 20 minutes later, the majority of the 91 passengers and crew survived.

December 2000: Runway Overrun in Papeete, Tahiti

On December 26, 2000, Hawaiian Airlines Flight 481, a Boeing 767-300, overran the runway on landing at Faa’a International Airport in Papeete, Tahiti. Rainy weather was a factor. Fortunately, none of the 261 passengers and crew were injured.

The aircraft received substantial damage, but a major accident was averted.

May 2015: Smoke in the Cabin Forces Emergency Landing

On May 27, 2015, passengers on Hawaiian Airlines Flight 459, an Airbus A330-200 travelling from Seoul to Honolulu, reported smoke in the cabin. The plane diverted to make an emergency landing at LAX. The smoke turned out to be from an oven used to heat food.

No major issues resulted besides inconvenience to passengers.

August 2018: A321neo Tail Strike Incident at LAX

On August 13, 2018, a Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A321-200N slightly damaged its tail section on takeoff from LAX due to an overly steep rotation. No injuries occurred. After inspecting the aircraft, it was cleared to complete the flight to Honolulu.

The aggressive rotation takeoff procedure was blamed rather than any mechanical issue.

August 2019: Smoke in the Cabin of A321neo Leads to Emergency Landing

On August 22, 2019, nearly a year after the LAX tail strike incident, Hawaiian Airlines Flight 47, an Airbus A321neo, made an emergency landing in Oakland after smoke filled the cabin mid-flight. The smoke was traced to a damaged air conditioning unit, not the plane’s engines.

Passengers were unharmed after the unscheduled landing.

December 2022: A330 Encounters Severe Turbulence

Most recently, on December 13, 2022, an Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330 flight from Phoenix to Honolulu hit unexpected and intense turbulence, leading to 23 passenger injuries. After landing, 20 individuals were transported to hospitals, with 11 of them in serious condition.

Despite the scare, the pilots handled the challenging situation admirably, implementing recovery procedures.

A Commitment to Safety: Hawaiian Airlines’ Response to Incidents

Thorough Investigations: Unraveling the Causes of Incidents

When faced with accidents or incidents, Hawaiian Airlines acts swiftly to determine root causes. Teams of experts conduct extensive analyses, reviewing flight data, maintenance records, pilot training procedures, and other factors.

By fully unraveling each unique sequence of events, Hawaiian identifies targeted improvements to prevent recurrences.

For example, after a 2019 runway overrun incident in Kahului Airport, Hawaiian conducted a detailed investigation alongside the NTSB. Contributing factors were pinpointed, such as tailwind conditions, a unstable approach, and the captain’s inputs during landing.

Corrective actions addressed all areas, enhancing training and operating procedures.

Implementing Corrective Actions: Preventing Future Incidents

Once investigative findings are complete, Hawaiian Airlines implements sweeping changes to reinforce defenses. From 2013-2022, Hawaiian invested over $800 million in new aircraft, equipment upgrades, and pilot training – evidence of their safety commitment.

After a 2018 incident involving incorrect rigging of the captain’s shoulder harness, Hawaiian inspected all Airbus aircraft and instituted revisions to harness donning procedures. These actions exemplify Hawaiian’s diligence in translating insights into meaningful improvements.

Transparency and Communication: Keeping Stakeholders Informed

Hawaiian Airlines values transparency and provides regular updates during ongoing investigations. After a rare 2021 engine shutdown incident, Hawaiian immediately notified passengers and published details surrounding the event.

Later, a final report was shared, covering the MRI failure analysis and required inspections to 500 engines across airlines. Such open communication and coordination upholds public trust.

Additionally, Hawaiian shares safety enhancements with local airports and industry groups. Recently, Hawaiian piloted the Safe Landing program to enable anonymous safety reports from crew members and staff. The valuable perspective this allows will drive safety advancements industry-wide.

The Pillars of Aviation Safety: Understanding the Factors at Play

Aircraft Maintenance: Ensuring the Airworthiness of the Fleet

Hawaiian Airlines’ fleet of modern Airbus and Boeing aircraft undergo comprehensive maintenance checks by certified technicians according to strict FAA guidelines. Proper aircraft maintenance like routine oil changes, part replacements, avionics checks are the nuts and bolts to keep these complex machines cruising through sunny skies and stormy weather alike.

Pilot Training and Expertise: Cultivating a Highly Skilled Crew

It takes a cool-headed aviator to navigate Hawaii’s fickle weather and remote island locations. Hawaiian Airlines cultivates expertise with thousands of hours of flight time and runs crew members through recurring simulator training on aircraft systems and emergency procedures.

Their pilots are among the most skilled in the country, keeping passengers comfortable through every stage of the journey.

Weather Awareness and Planning: Navigating the Skies Safely

Hawaiian has a dedicated meteorology team tracking weather systems across the Pacific 24/7. By proactively planning efficient routings and fuel loads even in poor weather, their dispatchers seamlessly get passengers from Point A to B without a hitch.

Beach-goers can have confidence that their flight crew has got the weather covered!

Emergency Preparedness: Responding Effectively to Unforeseen Situations

Though emergencies are exceptionally rare events, Hawaiian ensures crews practice coordination and simulate emergency scenarios often. In 2021 alone, their pilots and flight attendants participated in over 49,000 hours of safety and emergency training.

With coordinated training between pilots, cabin crew, dispatchers and maintenance, Hawaiian crews respond to irregular operations calmly and professionally.

Soaring Towards a Safer Future: Hawaiian Airlines’ Ongoing Safety Initiatives

Investing in Advanced Safety Technologies: Embracing Cutting-Edge Solutions

Hawaiian Airlines has always prioritized investing in the latest aviation safety innovations. For example, the airline recently spent $35 million to equip its fleet of Airbus A321neo aircraft with ACSS SafeRoute systems, providing improved tracking and collision avoidance capabilities.

Additionally, Hawaiian became one of the first carriers to adopt CPDLC (Controller Pilot Data Link Communications) technology across its entire Airbus and Boeing fleet, enabling digital communication between pilots and air traffic control.

These cutting-edge solutions demonstrate Hawaiian’s commitment to embracing new safety technologies.

Fostering a Culture of Safety: Empowering Employees to Report and Address Safety Concerns

Maintaining aviation safety requires vigilance from all employees. That’s why Hawaiian has implemented an confidential employee reporting system called SAFR (Safety Actions for Employees), which enables any crew member or ground staff to voice safety concerns without fear of retaliation (Hawaiian Airlines Safety Website).

By fostering an open, non-punitive safety culture, Hawaiian empowers its over 7,300 aviation professionals to take proactive steps when spotting potential hazards. This safety-first mindset keeps the airline reliable for the communities it serves.

Collaboration and Industry Engagement: Sharing Knowledge and Best Practices

While aviation technology progresses rapidly, focusing too narrowly can increase safety risks. That’s why Hawaiian Airlines actively participates in industry groups like APEX (Airline Passenger Experience Association), collaborating with other carriers globally to advance best practices.

For example, Hawaiian and other APEX members are currently developing new cabin safety standards to minimize loose item hazards during turbulence. By engaging with the wider aviation community, Hawaiian stays on the cutting edge of safety thinking.

Continuous Learning and Adaptation: Evolving with the Ever-Changing Aviation Landscape

From navigating rough oceanic weather to maintaining complex twin-engine aircraft, operating safe flights in Hawaii presents unique challenges. That’s why Hawaiian’s over 2,100 pilots undergo regular training focused on local conditions through the airline’s Honolulu-based flight training center.

By tailoring recurring education to its distinct island routes, Hawaiian enables pilots to anticipate and respond to hazards. Simultaneously, the airline monitors evolving risks like space launches and adjusts procedures accordingly, demonstrating continuous learning and adaptation even after 93 years of operations.

Also read: How Many Planes Have Crashed Going To Hawaii?


Hawaiian Airlines’ safety record serves as a testament to its unwavering commitment to providing passengers with a secure and reliable travel experience.

While challenges have emerged along the way, the airline has demonstrated its ability to learn from incidents, implement corrective actions, and continuously enhance its safety procedures.

As Hawaiian Airlines continues to navigate the dynamic skies, its dedication to safety remains paramount. By embracing innovative technologies, cultivating a safety-oriented culture, and collaborating with industry partners, the airline is well-positioned to maintain its position as a leader in aviation safety.

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