Tuesday, December 13, 2011

New Airplanes Coming Our Way-737 MAX

When I first got hired at SWA we were still taking delivery of brand new 737-300s. We had many of the old 737-200s still in our fleet at that time. We had a few old, tired, beat up 500s  and the rumor was that Boeing was going to offer the 737-700 for us to purchase. Boy how times have changed!


Since then the 200s have been phased out, we have more 700s than 300s and we are still running those old, tired, beat up 500s. The problem we have at SWA is that the 700s are so reliable now that it has spotlighted how (I don't want to say unreliable) much work it requires to keep the older 300s and those God-forsaken 500s flying. A while after we got our 700s we transitioned them out of the maintenance program that the 300s were in and into a program that was a better fit for the 700s. That program, which uses MV (Maintenance Visits) instead of the old A, B, C, and D checks allows for better utilization of the Next Gen aircraft. Ultimately the program allows the MVs to be stretched out a little farther apart than the old Check system.


The problem is, in my opinion, that we also put the 300s and 500s on this MV style program. The older planes do not have the component reliability that the Next Gen planes do. As a result the older planes are getting rather "beat up" as a result. Most of the mechanics at SWA would agree that the 3s and 5s are getting to be a little long in the tooth. It was pretty obvious that Management would have to do something about the older planes pretty soon.

Enter the 737-MAX. This plane is basically a re-engined and re-geared 737 Next Gen. The engines are bigger which required a new set up of the landing gear in order to keep them from dragging on the ground! There are a lot of numbers being thrown around right now but it seems to me to be around a 10% savings in fuel and operating costs. The new engine is a CFM-Leap1b  which has a composite fan section and some other changes they claim will make it the best thing since sliced bread.

737-MAX copyright Boeing Co.

As any one who knows me can attest to I do not like change. I almost freaked out when we ordered the 737-800s due in March, but I like this 737-MAX for a few reasons:

It saves fuel.
It reduces maintenance issues involved with the 300s and 500s.
It saves fuel.
It's made in America.
It saves fuel.
It's not an Airbus.
It saves fuel.
It's not a re-skinned 300. Thank God that idea seems to be headed out the window!
It's got those cool looking scalloped engine nacelles.

Bottom line is: Fuel is our biggest cost. If we can save whatever percent of our fuel I'm for it. A while ago one of the big wigs in Dallas said a 1% savings in fuel saves the company something like one billion dollars! I know I'm going to sound like a cool-aid drinker here but that is money that can go into my Profit Sharing!

Did I mention that the 500s were old, tired and beat up?