Southwest Airlines Fleet

Since its inception Southwest Airlines has almost exclusively operated Boeing 737 aircraft (except for a brief period when it leased and flew some Boeing 727-200 aircraft). Southwest is the world's largest operator of the Boeing 737, and was the launch customer of the 737-300, 737-500, 737-700, and 737 MAX 8. Southwest Airlines is also poised to be the launch customer for the 737 MAX 7. Southwest added the Boeing 737-700 to its fleet on December 17, 1997. Southwest added the Boeing 737-800 to its fleet on April 11, 2012. The aircraft has 175 seats, 32 more than the former largest 737s in Southwest's fleet.

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Explanation

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Two Boeing 737-700s of Southwest Airlines at San Francisco International Airport

Since its inception Southwest Airlines has almost exclusively operated Boeing 737 aircraft (except for a brief period when it leased and flew some Boeing 727-200 aircraft). Southwest is the world's largest operator of the Boeing 737, and was the launch customer of the 737-300, 737-500, 737-700, and 737 MAX 8. Southwest Airlines is also poised to be the launch customer for the 737 MAX 7.

History

Southwest added the Boeing 737-700 to its fleet on December 17, 1997. Southwest added the Boeing 737-800 to its fleet on April 11, 2012. The aircraft has 175 seats, 32 more than the former largest 737s in Southwest's fleet.[1]

After completing the purchase of AirTran Airways, Southwest Airlines acquired AirTran's existing fleet of Boeing 717 aircraft. However, Southwest elected not to integrate them into its fleet and currently leases them to Delta Air Lines.[2][3]

On December 13, 2011, Southwest placed a firm order for 150 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, becoming the launch customer for the type (although the first delivery of the 737 MAX 8 was to Malindo Air).[4][4]

On May 15, 2013, Southwest became the launch customer for the Boeing 737 MAX 7 aircraft and now has 30 MAX 7 aircraft on order. The first delivery is expected in 2019.[5]

On August 29, 2017, Southwest Airlines took delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX 8, making it the first airline in North America to do so. The airline was also the first in North America to operate the aircraft on scheduled revenue passenger flights, which began October 1, 2017.[6] On January 2, 2018, Southwest converted 40 options into firm orders for the Boeing 737 MAX 8, bringing total orders of the variant to more than 250 aircraft.[7] On the same day, the airline also announced that it was deferring 23 deliveries of the Boeing 737 MAX 7 to 2023-2024 and beyond.[8] On April 26, 2018, Southwest exercised a further 40 options on the Boeing 737 MAX 8, converting them to firm orders. This establishes the airline as the largest 737 MAX customer with 280 total orders for the MAX 8 variant, and 310 aircraft total for the 737 MAX family.[9]

On March 13, 2018, Southwest Airlines took delivery of the 10,000th Boeing 737, setting the Guinness World Record for Boeing which started producing the 737 in January 1967. This beat the previous record of 5,000 set back in 2006. This will be flown under tail number N8717M. There is a special registration plate commemorating the milestone inside the L1 door.[10]

On October 1, 2018, Southwest Airlines took a delivery of its final Boeing 737-800. All future deliveries for the foreseeable future will be a type of the Boeing 737 MAX.[11]

In March 2019, countries around the world banned the Boeing 737 Max from flying in their airspace, due to safety concerns following the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and the crash of Lion Air Flight 610 five months prior. On March 13, 2019, the US joined the list of countries banning the Boeing 737 Max when US President Donald Trump ordered the grounding of all Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 aircraft. With 4.5% of its fleet being the banned aircraft (34 out of 754 planes), Southwest Airlines was significantly impacted by the ban. The 34 Boeing 737 Max planes used by Southwest airlines made it the largest user of the grounded plane (three airlines tied for second largest with 24 planes). On the day of Trump's announcement, Southwest Airlines stock dropped more than 4% as a result of the grounding.

Current fleet

As of March 2019, Southwest Airlines operates the following aircraft:[12][13]

Southwest Airlines fleet
Aircraft In service Orders Passengers Notes
Boeing 737-700 513 143 Older aircraft to be retired starting in 2019.
Boeing 737-800 207 175
Boeing 737 MAX 7 30 150 Launch customer; scheduled to be delivered from 2019.[14][15]
23 aircraft deferred past 2023.[8] To replace 737-700.[16]
Boeing 737 MAX 8 34 245 175 Entered revenue service on October 1, 2017.
Received the 10,000th 737.[15]
"Spirit of Renton", N8701Q,[17] first Boeing 737 MAX prototype in fleet. To replace 737-700.[18]
Total 754 275

Historical fleet

Southwest Airlines fleet history
Aircraft Introduction Retired Replacement(s) Notes
Boeing 727-200 1979 1987 Boeing 737-300 Leased from Braniff International Airways, and People Express Airlines.
Boeing 737-200 1971 2005 Boeing 737-700 Southwest's first aircraft type.
Boeing 737-300 1984 2017 Boeing 737-700
Boeing 737-800
Boeing 737 MAX 8
Launch customer.
Boeing 737-500 1990 2016 Boeing 737-700 Launch customer.

Livery/paint

Original Desert Gold livery, used until 2008

Southwest's original primary livery was "Desert Gold" (Gold, Red and Orange, with pinstripes of white separating each section of color). The word Southwest appeared in white on the gold portion of the tail. On the original three 737-200s, from June 1971, on the left side of the aircraft, the word Southwest was placed along the upper rear portion of the fuselage, with the word Airlines painted on the tail N21SW. On the right side, the word Southwest was on the tail, but also had the word Airlines painted on the upper rear portion of the fuselage.N20SW. This was later revised to simply include "Southwest" on both sides of the tail. The airline's Boeing 727-200s, operated briefly in the late 1970s and early 1980s, featured other variations on the livery; one was painted in a shade of ochre instead of gold with stylized titles on the forward fuselage and an "S" logo on the tail, while others bore the standard livery (albeit in metallic gold) with the word "Southwest" moved from the tail to the forward fuselage.[19][20]

Canyon Blue livery used from 2001 - 2014

Southwest introduced the canyon blue livery on January 16, 2001, the first primary livery change in Southwest's then-30-year history. Spirit One was the first aircraft painted in the canyon blue fleet color scheme. The second livery replaces the former primary color, "Desert Gold", with "Canyon Blue" and changes the Southwest text and pinstripes to gold. The orange and red stripes continued to be used. The pinstripe along the aircraft was drawn in a more curved pattern instead of the straight horizontal line separating the colors in the original. For aircraft equipped with blended winglets, the blended winglets were painted to include the text Southwest.com. Southwest completed repainting its entire fleet with the new "Canyon Blue" livery in early 2010; however, Southwest Classic (N714CB), The Herbert D. Kelleher (N711HK) and N792SW, (the final aircraft delivered from Boeing in the original livery, now repainted to Heart), which are Boeing 737–700 aircraft, retained a simplified version of the original "Desert Gold" livery.

Heart livery used 2014–present

A new livery, named "Heart" and developed with firms GSD&M, Lippincott, VML, Razorfish, and Camelot Communications, was unveiled on September 8, 2014.[21] The new livery uses a darker shade of blue. The orange stripe on the tail is changed to yellow; both the red and yellow stripes are now enlarged in reverse pattern; and the belly of the aircraft is now in blue and features a heart, which has been a symbol for Southwest during its 43-year history. Additionally, the pinstripes are changed to a silver-gray; and the Southwest text, now white, has been moved to the front of the fuselage. Lettering is in a font custom designed by Monotype, Southwest Sans. The web address was moved from the winglets to the engines.

Special liveries and decals

Some Southwest aircraft feature special liveries or are named with special decals. Southwest gives these aircraft special names, usually ending in "One." All special liveries painted prior to Spirit One originally wore the standard Desert Gold, red and orange colors on the vertical stabilizer and rudder. Subsequent special liveries featured tails painted with the canyon blue livery, with all earlier specials repainted with the Spirit livery tail. Aircraft painted in special liveries have white painted winglets. Missouri One was the first special livery to feature a modified version of the Heart tail design, with the red and yellow ribbons shrunk in order to fit the Southwest wordmark as it is too large to be used on the fuselage as on other aircraft. Previous special livery aircraft are currently being repainted with the new tail design.[22]

Table of Southwest Airlines' Special Liveries[23]
(including photos)

References

  1. Lori Ranson (December 15, 2010). "Southwest to take delivery of first 737–800 in March 2012". Flightglobal. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
  2. "Southwest Airlines Newsroom: Releases". Swamedia.com. Archived from the original on November 16, 2012. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  3. "Delta to add Boeing 717s in 2013, replacing smaller jets". worldairlinenews.com. Retrieved October 5, 2013.
  4. 1 2 "Southwest Airlines Will Become Launch Customer for the New Boeing 737 Max Aircraft". Southwest Airlines. December 13, 2011. Archived from the original on January 17, 2012. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
  5. "Southwest Airlines Returns Value To Shareholders". Retrieved May 15, 2013.
  6. "Southwest Airlines Takes Delivery of First Boeing 737 MAX 8". Airways Magazine. Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  7. "Southwest Airlines to Boeing: We'll take the large". Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  8. 1 2 "Southwest converts options for 40 more 737 Max 8s". Flightglobal.com. 2018-01-02. Retrieved 2018-01-03.
  9. "Southwest exercises another 40 737 Max 8 options". Flightglobal.com. 2018-04-26. Retrieved 2018-04-27.
  10. "Boeing Celebrates the Guinness World Record 737 Program with its 10,000th Aircraft". airwaysmag.com. 2018-03-13. Retrieved 2018-03-14.
  11. "Southwest Airlines Will Take Only Boeing's Newest Model Jets From Now On". 2018-10-02. Retrieved 2018-10-03.
  12. "Southwest Airlines Fleet Details and History". www.planespotters.net. Retrieved 2019-01-26.
  13. "Southwest Reports Third Quarter Profit".[dead link]
  14. "Southwest Launches 737 MAX 7, Converts 30 737 NG Orders". Retrieved May 15, 2013.
  15. 1 2 "Southwest Airlines shows off new Boeing 737 MAX". star-telegram.com. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
  16. "Southwest accelerates 737-700 retirements".
  17. https://www.planespotters.net/airframe/Boeing/737/N8701Q-Southwest-Airlines/W3pDI0Oj
  18. "Southwest accelerates 737-700 retirements".
  19. "Aviation Photo #1450565: Boeing 727-291 - Southwest Airlines (Braniff International Airways)". airliners.net. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
  20. "Aviation Photo #0682325: Boeing 727-227/Adv - Southwest Airlines". airliners.net. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
  21. "Southwest unveils first new livery since 2001" (Press release). Dallas, TX: In Airline News. September 8, 2014. Archived from the original on September 11, 2014. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  22. "Fact Sheet". swamedia.com. Southwest Airlines Co. 2016. Archived from the original on May 3, 2011. Retrieved May 2, 2011.
  23. "Southwest Airlines Newsroom: By Category". Swamedia.com. Retrieved 2013-07-29.
  24. "Site Search 'N248WN' - Planespotters.net Just Aviation". planespotters.net. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  25. "Site Search 'N238WN' - Planespotters.net Just Aviation". planespotters.net. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  26. "Charles E. Taylor". southwest.com. May 14, 2008. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  27. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Specialty Aircraft - By Category - Southwest Airlines Newsroom". swamedia.com. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  28. "Special Liveries That Separate Southwest from the Pack – Airways Magazine". airwaysnews.com. Archived from the original on November 5, 2016. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  29. Southwest Airlines Newsroom: By Date
  30. "N711HK Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-7H4(WL) - cn 27845 / 38". planespotters.net. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  31. "Southwest Reveals New "Lone Star One" Texas State Aircraft - Airways Magazine". July 18, 2016. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  32. "N352SW - Retired". Flight Alert. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  33. "Welcome, Louisiana One!". March 7, 2018. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  34. "Southwest rolls out fire shark-themed Boeing 737s for Shark Week". usatoday.com. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  35. "Southwest's "The Spirit of Kitty Hawk" (N448WN)". www.visitingphx.com. Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  36. "Southwest Airlines Honors State Of Tennessee With Chart-Topping Tribute: Unveiling Tennessee One Aircraft". southwest.com. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  37. "Introducing Our New Triple Crown One". southwest.com. May 22, 2015. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  38. "N647SW - Retired". Flight Alert. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  39. "Meet Warrior One, Southwest's Newest (and Biggest) Plane". texasmonthly.com. January 21, 2013. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  40. "Registration Data". Flight Aware. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  41. "N607SW Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-3H4(WL) - cn 27927 / 2741". planespotters.net. Archived from the original on November 6, 2016. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  42. "N607SW - Retired". Flight Aware. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  43. 1 2 "Joint Statement on Southwest and SeaWorld Partnership – Southwest Airlines Newsroom". swamedia.com. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
  44. "Silver One - Our Aircraft - Southwest Airlines Newsroom". swamedia.com. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  45. "N629SW - Retired". Flight Aware. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  46. Dallas Morning News Aviation Blog
  47. Shrink, Here Comes the (June 15, 2015). "Southwest: 44 Years of Awesome Liveries". herecomestheshrink.com. Archived from the original on June 15, 2015. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
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