Smiths Industries in major avionics upgrade for Southwest Airlines as industry embraces latest flight management technology

Smiths Industries Aerospace has been selected by Southwest Airlines to carry out the most significant upgrade program to date on flight management systems for Boeing 737 'Classic' jetliners. Under the contract, Smiths Industries will supply new flight management computers (FMC) for 208 of Southwest's Boeing 737-300 & -500 fleet, with deliveries to be completed by December this year.

Upgrading to the latest FMC technology, which meets new international air traffic control standards, will offer Southwest greater control over arrival times to reduce delays and increase airport capacity. The airline has decided to place greater reliance on the Smiths Industries flight management system to increase further its operating efficiency. It will now standardize its entire fleet of B737s with the latest FMC, which is supplied as basic equipment on new Boeing 737-300s and 'Next Generation' 737-700s currently being delivered to Southwest.

Norman Barber, Chairman of Smiths Industries Aerospace, commented "Southwest places great emphasis on low operating costs and through this multi-million dollar upgrade the airline will quickly realize significant cost benefits, leading to an early recovery of its investment. The contract is an important recognition of the lead we have in this vital area of aircraft navigation. We are confident that our technology will become the industry standard, with many airlines looking to upgrade their fleets of 'classic' 737s."

With a fleet of 266 Boeing 737s currently in operation, Southwest is Boeing's largest customer for the world's biggest selling airplane. Gary Barron, the airline's Executive Vice President & Chief Operations Officer commented: "Southwest leads the US airline industry in reliable, high quality travel at the lowest fares possible. Our decision to invest in Smiths Industries' latest FMC is one further step in our campaign to keep costs low while setting new standards."

The new flight management computer is half the size of its predecessor, offering more functions with higher reliability, at less weight and lower power consumption. Using the satellite-based global navigation positioning system, it provides the processing power for Smiths Industries full flight management system, fitted to all newly delivered Boeing 737s.

A central feature of the new FMC for Southwest is the Adaptable Airline Operational Control Data Link, which is capable of establishing a link between the aircraft and the airline's operational control using aircraft communication and reporting system (ACARS) network. This allows flight plans, and information on winds and a variety of data to be exchanged electronically. This FMC is developed and manufactured by Smiths Industries Aerospace at Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The company is a world leader in the supply of advanced avionics for military and civil aircraft. Smiths Industries is also a leading manufacturer of medical systems and specialized industrial products and has substantial businesses in the USA, UK and continental Europe.

Press enquiries to:
UK: Russell Plumley or Richard Bayliss Tel: 0181-457 8203
USA: Jennifer Villarreal, Tel: (616) 241 8643

Note to editors:
For a picture of a Boeing 737 in Southwest livery see the airline's web site: To download a photo of the Southwest jet see website.

Smiths Industries Aerospace, 4141 Eastern Avenue, SE, Grand Rapids, MI. Telephone: 616 241 8643.


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