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United and Southwest Begin Using Pratt & Whitney's EcoPower Engine Wash

Yes, the price of fuel is insanely high, but let's look on the bright side. Some pretty good stuff can come out of high fuel prices. Yesterday, we saw both United and Southwest announce that they would use the Pratt & Whitney EcoPower Engine Wash. I'm guessing this wouldn't have happened without fuel prices where they are today.

First of all, what the heck is an EcoPower Engine Wash? I can see the conversation now:

PW Exec: Ok, so we shoot water into an engine to clean it? That's kind of boring. PW Underling: We can call it something cool, something buzzworthy, maybe? PW Exec: Great idea - what's buzzworthy these days? Green stuff, yeah, that's the ticket. PW Underling: I know, how about EcoPower! PW Exec: Perfect!

Really, it's basically just an engine wash that apparently gets engines a cleaner than a regular wash. (Let's call this the Deluxe wash.) This helps the airlines save fuel and reduce emissions since apparently a dirty engine is an inefficient engine. United says it will save 3 million gallons annually. At $4 a gallon that's a cool $12 million. Southwest says it'll save $20 million a year.

My guess is that this service isn't cheap, but with fuel prices so high, it now becomes worthwhile to pay for it, because the fuel cost savings can be so great. The environmental benefit? Yeah, that's nice and it's good for marketing, but for airlines these days, it's all about cost cutting. As fuel becomes more expensive, environmentally-friendly procedures like this one start to look more attractive, and that's not a bad thing.

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