DUBAI 09: Airbus launches fuel-saving winglets for A320 family

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Airbus will offer fuel-saving winglets on its A320 family aircraft beginning in 2012.

The specially designed 2.3m-tall (8ft) 'Sharklets' will provide a 3.5% fuel burn savings on routes longer than 1500nm, says the European airframer. Air New Zealand will launch the new winglets at the end of 2012 as part of its recent order for A320 aircraft.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer, Rob Fyfe says that "the new Sharklets will enable our Airbus fleet to benefit from lower fuel burn and carbon emissions, both across Air New Zealand's domestic network and especially on the longer trans-Tasman sectors".

Airbus says the A321 and A319 will follow in 2013 and the company has not yet decided if it will offer the winglets on the A318.

Airbus claims the winglets will offer a boost of 110nm in range or a payload increase of 500kg or about two passengers. The performance improvement will also translate to a yearly reduction of 700t in carbon dioxide.

Each $900,000 set of Sharklets will weigh 200kg, including structural changes to the wing box. Airbus says that the winglets will be weight neutral at an aircraft level due to overall airframe weight savings.

The addition of Sharklet winglets also keeps the A320 family within the 36m ICAO 'Class C' limits and will result in higher available takeoff weights, notably from obstacle-limited runways.

Airbus adds that in situations where runway performance is not "limiting" operators, the reduction in takeoff thrust will result in a 2% maintenance cost saving.

The winglets will not be offered as a retrofit, but Airbus says it is working with Aviation Partners to provide a simpler design on A320 family aircraft already in service.

Airbus carried out a test programme in December 2008 to evaluate the performance of 'Sharklet' style winglets.