Southwest, Aviation Partners Boeing, and The Boeing Co. Celebrate Blended Winglet-Outfitted Aircraft With Dedication Ceremony
Champagne Toast Christens Sleek, New Look
A sleek, shiny Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) Boeing 737-700 roared from a hangar at the Boeing Delivery Center today outfitted with the first pair of new Blended Winglet Shipsets installed in Washington state.
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In a dedication ceremony at Boeing Field, officials from Southwest, The Boeing Co., Aviation Partners Boeing, and Goodrich Corporation's Aviation Technical Services team "christened" the aircraft with champagne and confetti. The plane will make its first trek to Dallas to be made ready to enter Southwest's fleet later this month.
"Today marks a milestone in Southwest's aviation history," said Laura Wright, Southwest's vice president of finance. "The new look of our Boeing fleet will provide Southwest with significant cost savings and operational advantages as we continue to grow."
Representatives from Aviation Partners Boeing, the winglet makers, also marked the milestone with these comments: "We are very proud that Southwest Airlines has adopted our Blended Winglets for their fleet of 737 aircraft," said Mike Marino, chief executive officer of Aviation Partners Boeing. "For them it's another notable addition to their legendary low-fare strategy. For us, it's a landmark in the acceptance of this visible technology."
Southwest's current fleet of 737-700s is being retrofitted by Aviation Technical Services, an Everett, Wash., based division of Goodrich Corporation, and by San Antonio Aerospace in San Antonio, Texas, and by Southwest's own maintenance team in Dallas.
The winglet retrofit project began in October, and is expected to take 18 months to complete. Approximately 170 737-700s will be retrofitted with the 8-foot high winglets. Beginning in August 2004, The Boeing Co. will begin delivering Southwest's 737-700s with the winglets factory installed.
"We're delighted to mark this milestone with Southwest today," said Carolyn Corvi, 737/757 vice president and general manager for Boeing. "The aerodynamic benefits of winglets will enable Southwest to serve its Customers with greater efficiency. Making this option available on in-production 737-700s, Boeing once again is enhancing the value of an already great airplane family."
Dallas-based Southwest currently operates 143 737-700s, and has approximately 400 firm orders, options, and purchase rights remaining with Boeing through 2012.
The Blended Winglet Shipsets, or winglets, gently curve out and up from each wingtip, reducing aerodynamic drag and increasing performance. The 8-foot high winglets add about five feet to the airplane's total wingspan and allow the 737-700 to fly up to 115 nautical miles farther and reduce fuel burn.
"A benefit of the winglets is that Southwest expects to save an average of up to 92,000 gallons of jet fuel per airplane per year," Wright said. "That will allow us the flexibility to increase payloads out of high, hot and obstacle-limited airports as well as shorten the time it takes to climb to a cruising altitude."
Aviation Partners Boeing's Marino said added environmental benefits include reduced emissions and noise.
Southwest Airlines is the nation's fourth largest carrier in terms of Customers boarded, serves 59 airports in 58 cities in 30 states. Southwest operates nearly 2,800 flights a day with an all-Boeing fleet of 386 Boeing 737s. The carrier recently announced that it will begin service to its 60th airport, Philadelphia International Airport, in May 2004. The airline also said it is speeding up the conversion of its fleet to the new canyon blue livery and cool saddle tan leather interior-the updates now are expected to be completed by 2005.
SOURCE Southwest Airlines