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Southwest Airlines Co. has signed a multiyear agreement to use an environmentally friendly engine-washing system in an effort to save on fuel and cut carbon emissions.
The Dallas-based carrier is using the EcoPower system offered by East Hartford, Conn.-based flight technology firm Pratt & Whitney Global Service Partners. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Pratt & Whitney said Southwest’s annual fuel-cost savings could exceed $20 million. The airline also stands to cut 135 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually as a result.
The arrangement with Pratt & Whitney comes as Southwest, along with the rest of the airline industry, faces record-high fuel prices that have led many to trim capacity and levy fees on travelers. Southwest in the first quarter reported a 63 percent drop in profit to $34 million, partially driven by a 34 percent hike in fuel and oil costs compared with the same period of 2007.
Southwest said it is performing regular washes at airports in Orlando, Fla., and Oakland, Calif., where Pratt & Whitney has established new service centers. The EcoPower equipment uses a closed-loop system with atomized water to wash aircraft engines, avoiding contaminant runoff, Pratt & Whitney said. The patented system is considered more effective and faster than traditional engine-washing processes.
Pratt & Whitney parent United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) employs more than 225,000 worldwide and in 2007 recorded $4.22 billion in profit on $54.8 billion in revenue.