It’s hard to believe that our journey to revolutionize automation at Southwest Airlines is finally here. In that time we developed the concept and training modules and incorporated autothrottle, vertical navigation, Primary Flight Display/Navigation Display (PFD/ND), and GPS procedures into our operation. We’re now about to take the final step in our automation transformation—Required Navigation Performance (RNP).
The Flight Training Center has been a hive of activity for the last two years. Nearly 6,000 Southwest Airlines Pilots have successfully completed RNP Training. Our Training Team did an absolutely phenomenal job of developing a world class training product that has prepared us to fly these new procedures. As we began training our New Hire Pilots last week, we have dedicated three days to preparing them for the automation environment in which they’ll be flying.
This project has meant much more than just flying RNP procedures. I remember hearing that Southwest Airlines would never use the autothrottle system. That change alone immediately netted us millions of dollars per month in fuel savings. The transition to PFD/ND displays in the flight deck better positioned us for the possibility to add the Boeing 737-800 to our fleet, and gave us the ability to look at growing our airline by acquiring another carrier. Neither opportunity would have been available had we not automated our aircraft. Finally, GPS procedures allow us to operate into airports where traditional navigation aids have previously limited our operations during airport construction and inclement weather.
Our journey to RNP could not have been realized without the support of our great Company. The multi-million dollar project is the most ever spent by Southwest on any internal project. Our Senior Leadership Team showed great vision and commitment by recognizing the value of Southwest leading the industry into the next generation of commercial aviation technology.
We also had the unwavering support of many other departments, and without them, we could not have achieved this success. Maintenance, Operations Coordination Center, Central Publications, and Technology all played critical roles in our automation transformation. We are forever thankful for their service.
It’s time to fly RNP!