Some Retiring Southwest 737s Will Become Firefighting Tankers
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Retired commercial airplanes often have nowhere to go but the desert, to be scrapped for their metal or parts. However, a half-dozen retired Boeing 737-300s have found a new lease on life.
The Coulson Group has purchased six 737s formerly flown by Southwest Airlines, to be used as firefighting jets. This is the first time 737s have been used for this purpose. The planes will be able to dump 4,000 gallons of fire retardant on each run, and carry up to 63 passengers, including ground firefighting crews and rescue teams who will work in the hot zones.
Coulson currently flies four Lockheed C-130s and some Sikorski S-61 helicopters. Coulson CEO Wayne Coulson told the Puget Sound Business Journal that he seized the opportunity to buy Southwest’s gently used jets when he heard the airline was retiring the planes. C-130s are also very hard to come by, and there were none for sale when Coulson inked the 737 deal. Plus, the 737s were available for a much cheaper price than C-130s. In addition to firefighting, the company also works in helicopter logging, power-line construction, airliner passenger transport and many other industrial heavy-lift operations.
Boeing produced 1,113 of the 737-300 from 1984 to 1999. Southwest had up to 195 in its fleet, years ago, but only 75 remain. All of the remaining planes will be retired by September 30 of this year, to make room for the new 737 MAX, which Southwest will begin flying on October 1. The first plane to be converted for Coulson will be N617SW, which was built in October 1995, followed by N608SW, which was built in July 1995.
The 737 holds the title of the world’s most-produced commercial jet, having been in service for 50 years, starting with Lufthansa. Since that time, Airbus has come along to challenge Boeing with its A320 series of aircraft, holding a steady second place in the market. More recently, other competitors have come from China’s COMAC C919, and Russia’s Irkut MC-21.
Featured image courtesy of the author, Paul Thompson.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees