Having recently selected a custom version of Recaro’s BL3710 economy class seat for new Boeing 737 MAX twinjets scheduled for delivery from early 2025, Southwest Airlines tells Runway Girl Network that it also expects to work with its long-time seat partner, Collins Aerospace, “on current and future programs”, as it pursues a dual-source strategy for seats.
In the middle of the last decade, Collins Aerospace (previously B/E Aerospace) started supplying its popular Meridian seat on Southwest’s 737-800s and later MAX 8s. Though Recaro’s BL3710 has been selected for new 737 MAX twinjets arriving a year from now, a spokeswoman with the low-cost carrier says:
Collins Aerospace is and will continue to be a significant partner to Southwest Airlines.
Additionally, a second supplier reduces risk in case of future supply chain interruptions.
Southwest looks forward to working with Collins on current and future programs.
As widely reported on RGN and elsewhere, the aviation supply chain is indeed under pressure, hammered by labor and parts shortages.
Like many in industry, Collins and indeed Recaro have faced some constraints. For instance, German website aeroTELEGRAPH last fall reported that bottlenecks are delaying the Collins Aerospace-manufactured Allegris first class suite’s debut on Lufthansa’s incoming Airbus A350s. Lufthansa Technik has since taken take the reins on developing new first class suites for Lufthansa’s Boeing 747-8 widebodies.
At Southwest Airlines, meanwhile, the new Recaro BL3710 seats with multi-adjustable headrests and seatback device holders — which are part of the carrier’s new Tangerine-designed cabin — will be installed on new 737 MAX 8 deliveries from early 2025, “and new MAX 7 orders once it is certified”, says Southwest’s spokeswoman. She stresses:
To clarify Southwest specifically opted not to choose Recaro’s slimline seat (SL line) to ensure customer comfort was taken into consideration. Southwest conducted multiple rounds of comfort testing with hundreds of participants, and we’re confident in the comfort and reliability these seats provide.
After testing, Southwest continued to leverage Recaro’s expertise in developing long-haul premium economy seats in the international market and translated those learnings and enhancements to make a custom seat unique to Southwest.
Recaro late last year celebrated the 25th Anniversary of its Recaro Aircraft Seating Americas facility. The Fort Worth, Texas-based plant’s general manager, Sunitha Vegerla says in a statement: “Since Recaro was founded in Fort Worth, it’s been a long-term goal to work with our neighbors — Southwest Airlines.
“From their servant-leadership and people-centric culture to their stance on sustainability and involvement in the community, the similarities we see in our companies’ cultures and values is astounding. As we look to the future, this partnership is a great milestone in the significance of sustainability and meeting customer needs in every seat design.”
Southwest’s spokeswoman also confirms to RGN that Astronics Corporation — which in 2022 was tapped by the carrier to provide USB-A and USB-C power ports on MAX 8 deliveries and retrofits (as well as forthcoming MAX 7 deliveries) — is “supplying the power ports for the seats on the existing 737-800s” in addition to the USB-A and USB-C outlets for the forthcoming new Recaro seats.
That’s a significant win for the in-seat power provider.
Existing MAX 8 and 737-800s will also see larger overhead bins installed, with Southwest confirming the selection of Boeing’s Space Bins for the twinjets.
Asked by RGN if any aircraft in Southwest’s existing fleet will receive the new Recaro BL3710 seats, she said: “Right now we can share that onboard power ports and larger overhead bins will be added to existing MAX 8 and -800s.”
In recent years, Southwest has also enhanced its inflight connectivity, notably also going dual-source with Viasat and incumbent Anuvu as its service providers.
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