Southwest’s ‘Green Plane’ to test eco-friendly interior materials

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Southwest Airlines has designated a 4-year old Boeing 737-700 ‘Green Plane’ to serve as a test-aircraft for a series of sustainable interior materials. For example, a 100 percent recyclable carpet is installed in sections, eliminating the need for total replacement of areas such as aisles, where Southwest currently uses 1 single piece of carpet. The carpet is returned to the manufacturer at the end of its service life and completely re-manufactured into new carpet. Also, two new leather seat covers (one recycled and one a leather substitute) will be tested, which are more durable and almost two pounds per seat lighter. To reduce weight, a lighter weight fill from foam in the back of the seats reduces weight, as well as life vest pouches made from canvas, instead of metal.

Overall, the uses more weigh-efficient materials  save the new plane approximately five pounds (2.3 kg) per seat, adding up to about a 472-pound (214 kg) difference, which is said to reduce 9,500 gallons (nearly 36,000 liters) of fuel each year. Additionally, Southwest expects the eco-friendly products to be more durable, which will save on materials and labor.

The Green Plane will be in regular revenue service so Southwest can evaluate normal wear and durability. Flight attendants will make an announcement to let passengers know that they are flying on the Green Plane. Additionally, there will be a placard located in the front of the plane that will display Southwests environmental commitment, an informational buck slip in each seat back pocket, and overhead bin clings with “Did you know” statements about Southwest’s green commitments. Passengers will be asked to participate a post-flight survey to provide feedback on Southwest’s green initiatives. Along with the green plane initiative, Southwest will implement an on-board recycling program starting November 1st, to divert recyclable material from trash collected both on the ground and in the cabin.

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