Posts Tagged ‘green airplane’

Southwest Airlines – are they eco-friendly?

The other day we looked at Southwest Airlines’ recent purchase of green power. But what else are they doing to keep it green?

Southwest Airlines has a basic green mission in place, but it’s a wee bit vague. According to Southwest…

We work to manage Greenhouse Gas Emissions both in the air and on the ground. In the air, we have initiated such programs as efficient flight profile speeds, aircraft specific performance monitoring, and installation of winglets on our -300 fleet. On the ground, we have a comprehensive engine wash program, along with gate services and an industry-leading Ground Support Equipment (GSE) electrification program. Our Employees work to minimize energy use, save water, and recycle on the aircraft and at our ground operations.

The above is a lot of fancy wording but no concrete facts. However, if you look into the company care manual they are doing some tasks to improve their green standing, such as…

Using paperless tickets.

Planning for efficiency in flights such as quick aircraft turnarounds, installation of winglets, and the installation of fleet-wide advanced avionics. This focus on efficiency includes a committed $175 million over a six-year period to retrofit their fleet with advanced avionics to support Required Navigational Performance (RNP). Efficient flight paths are crucial to the airline industry because the more inefficient the flight path, the more Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) you create. Southwest estimates (based on test flights) that RNP will result in a minimum of six percent fuel savings.

Southwest notes that they’re implementing “a more robust, system wide recycling program” that goes beyond current recycling efforts of paper, aluminum, cardboard, and plastic. In 2008, their recycling program diverted more than 450 metric tons of waste from landfills and their energy recovery program generated more than “4.8 billion British Thermal Units (BTUs) from used oil, filters, and liquid and solid paint waste, which the company sent to industries where the BTU value can be recovered, diverting waste from incinerators and providing an alternative energy source.”

The company uses Pratt & Whitney’s EcoPower Engine Wash which increased engine efficiency, and, from April 2008 through December 2008, saved 1.6 million gallons of fuel and reduced emission by 15,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Southwest also has some other green policies in place already along with some green plans such as water conservation and energy saving ideas in progress. You can read about some of their noted eco-plans for the future in their Southwest Cares report (pdf).

All in all:

A totally green airline, is as of right now, a pipe dream. You’re not going to find one. However, some people have to fly for business, some people want to fly for travel, and if that’s you, I’d choose an airline who is at least taking some steps to improve, which I’d say Southwest is doing. Soon we’ll take a look at some other airlines and see what they’re doing to upgrade to green.

To learn more visit Southwest’s Green Page.

[image via Southwest]


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