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!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.