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. 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.
Know before you go.
News and deals straight to your inbox every day.
WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points Terms Apply.
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber credits annually
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees