- - Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Southwest orders 208 Boeing 737s

DALLAS — Southwest Airlines is placing a huge order for a redesigned and more fuel-efficient version of the Boeing Co.’s most popular plane, the 737.

It’s the biggest firm order in Boeing’s history by number of planes - 208 - and list-price value - nearly $19 billion. Last month, Boeing announced a deal with Indonesia’s Lion Air for 230 planes worth $21.7 billion, but that agreement hasn’t been finished.

Tuesday’s order should help Southwest address its biggest challenge - high fuel prices - when the planes start arriving in 2017. Southwest is on pace to spend $5.6 billion this year on fuel, its largest expense and one that is growing twice as fast as revenue.

Southwest committed to buy 150 of the yet-to-be-built 737 Max planes and will become the first carrier to get one. Boeing says the new plane will have about 10 percent better mileage than the most economical single-aisle jetliner in the skies today. Southwest will also buy 58 current 737 jets, adding to the 142 it has on order.


New giant plane to launch people, cargo

SEATTLE — Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan announced Tuesday they’re building a giant airplane and spaceship to zip people and cargo into orbit.

Unlike traditional rockets and government spaceships, this new commercial spaceship will drop from a high-flying airplane instead of blasting off from a launch pad.

Mr. Allen and Mr. Rutan join a field crowded with Silicon Valley veterans who grew up on “Star Trek” and want to fill a void created with the retirement of NASA’s space shuttle. Several companies are competing to develop spacecraft to deliver cargo and astronauts to the International Space Station.

The duo won a prize in 2004 with a spaceship that went into space but not orbit. Their new business model likely includes tourism and satellites.

Their new plane will have a wingspan of 380 feet, longer than a football field. It will carry under its belly a space capsule with its own booster rocket, take off from a runway and go high into the air. Then the plane will release the spaceship, which will rocket to orbit.


Disclosure of fracking chemicals approved

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