Faster, Bigger, Quieter: Dallas-based Southwest Airlines launches Boeing 737 Max 8 Aircraft to make history

Yesterday, Dallas-based carrier Southwest Airlines launched nine Boeing 737 Max 8 jetliners, making it the first North American company to use the new Max 8 aircraft in commercial flights. The aircraft departed from six different airports, with the first taking off from Dallas Love Field for Houston and then San Antonio, a route reminiscent of Southwest’s “Texas Triangle” route in 1971. Southwest hopes to expand from nine to 14 of the Max 8 jetliners by the end of 2017.

The introduction of the Max 8 aircraft marks a new chapter in Southwest history. Earlier this weekend, Southwest retired 30 of their Boeing 737-300 jetliners, affectionately dubbed the “Classics”. Though a trailblazer when first introduced in 1984, the Classics have proven outdated in recent years due to their louder engines and lack of Wi-Fi connectivity. The Classics’ fuselage was also infamous for its safety hazards. In July 2009, a huge hole at the rear of the plane forced an emergency landing. In April 2011, two people were injured when a 5-foot-long gash opened in the fuselage mid-flight.

In contrast to the Classics and other Boeing models, the new Max 8 aircraft is safer and more fuel-efficient. With its nacelles that curb noise, v-shaped winglets, and powerful Leap-1B engine, the Max 8 is quieter, uses 14 percent less fuel, and travels 500 nautical miles farther than the Boeing 737-800. The Max 8 aircraft also has wider seat dimensions in economy class than any other plane on the North American market and can carry up to 175 passengers, 32 more than the Classic aircraft

The Max 8 was designed with the long-term future in mind. Unlike the Classic jetliner, the Max 8 aircraft is connected to satellite-based Wi-Fi. Southwest, notably, did not include television monitors to the Max 8 design. Instead, customers are encouraged to use their personal devices on board. This was a cost-effective measure since maintaining television monitors can be expensive and according to Mike Van de Ven, Southwest’s Chief Operating Officer, technology is constantly evolving and the television monitor may be outdated one day. After all, he noted how airplane seats once had telephones attached to them.

As Chairman & CEO Gary Kelly told Business Insider on Sunday, “Today, we begin a new chapter in Southwest’s history by introducing the Boeing 737 MAX 8 to our Customers and Employees. The MAX 8 is the future of the Southwest fleet, and we look forward to connecting Customers to the important moments in their lives through our legendary service delivered with this more fuel efficient aircraft designed to produce less noise in the communities we serve.” [sic]

Are you conducting R&D to improve aviation and the passenger experience like Southwest Airlines? You may be eligible for the R&D tax credit. If you would like to find out how your company could benefit from R&D Tax Credits, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today.

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