Edmund Greenslet, publisher of The Airline Monitor, says that in 2009, the last year for which data are available, Southwest averaged 5.6 takeoff and landing cycles a day for its Boeing 737s. That compares to an industry average of 4.
“So if there is a structural issue due to age and usage, Southwest will be the first airline to experience it. They are, in effect, the point.”
In addition to being the workhorse of Southwest’s fleet, the 737 happens to be the mostly widely used jet in the world.
The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday it will require inspection for cracks of older 737s that have flown more than 30,000 cycles. Tom Parsons, CEO of Arlington-based travel website BestFares.com, says that Southwest’s move to ground its older 737s ahead of that directive will help the airline quickly recover its reputation for safety.
“You look at all the other carriers, and they do not have a safety track record like Southwest Airlines. Southwest, to this date, has never lost a passenger.”