New era for Hawaiian Air


POSTED: Tuesday, May 04, 2010

It emerged from the clouds—with a wingspan of nearly 198 feet—and did a fly-by over Honolulu Airport.

And then, minutes later, Hawaiian Airlines' first Airbus A330-200 ceremoniously taxied yesterday toward a special staging area on the runway as firetrucks on each side of the aircraft sprayed an arc of water to christen its arrival.

“;It really is an extraordinary moment for the company as a whole,”; said Mark Dunkerley, president and chief executive officer of Hawaiian. “;It is a manifestation of all the good things that have happened to our company over the last few years and our hopes for the future. And you can see by the enthusiasm of our employees that they too very definitely share in this moment.”;

The plane, delivered to Hawaiian Wednesday at the Airbus factory in Toulouse, France, flew to Seattle the following day before yesterday's symbolic landing in Honolulu with a crew of 13, including Capts. Robert Mix and Mark Dawson, who both will help train Hawaiian pilots who currently fly Boeing 767s.

“;It was a very nice flight today,”; said Mix, who was in charge of the six-hour flight from Seattle. “;We had unusually strong head winds, and we arrived a couple minutes late, but it was a very smooth flight and it worked out perfectly.”;

;[Preview]  Hawaiian Airlines Receive Brand New Plane

A wide-body Airbus 330-200 series, the first of an anticipated 27 to arrive in the islands within the next decade.


Watch ]





Mix, who normally flies the Boeing 767, said he's becoming enamored with the Airbus.

“;I'm becoming unbiased about this whole issue because I really enjoy this airplane,”; he said. “;It's a fantastic airplane, and the performance on it is amazing in terms of the altitude we gain and the speed. It's really a wonderful airplane.”;

The Airbus has a fly-by-wire system that converts pilot inputs to electronic signals transmitted by wires that are routed through redundant computer systems. The fly-by-wire system saves weight and improves reliability. Boeing 767s differ in that they have cable systems to control their hydraulic systems.

“;The 767 is a classic airplane, but this is really a fantastic airplane from a flying standpoint, from a pilot's standpoint,”; Mix said. “;We have the most sophisticated equipment on there now. (The) fly-by-wire (system) makes it very enjoyable to fly in terms of handling characteristics. I think people are going to love it because it's very comfortable in the back, and we have a tremendous entertainment system. I think it will be an excellent airplane for us.”;

With the arrival of the A330—the first of three scheduled to arrive this year—Hawaiian will begin a decade-long transition to phase out its Boeing 767s. When the makeover is complete, Hawaiian could have as many as 27 new Airbus aircraft.

This first Airbus, scheduled to be put into service on June 4 for Hawaiian's Honolulu-Los Angeles route, seats 294—30 more than the 767—and has a wingspan that is just more than 30 feet more than the 767, excluding the winglets that were added to the 767s to increase fuel efficiency.

Hawaiian's second Airbus, due to arrive in either late May or early June, will be used for another Honolulu-Los Angeles route, while a third Airbus due in the fall is scheduled to be used for a Honolulu-Las Vegas route. At the end of this year, Hawaiian will have 35 planes in its fleet.

Dawson, who was the first officer on yesterday's flight, said the Airbus is popular among the pilots.

“;There wasn't any shortage of pilots wanting to bid for it,”; he said. “;Once the core group gets a chance to fly it and starts talking to the other pilots, I think we'll have a lot of guys wanting to fly it.”;