Airbus has completed the first flight of its A320 test aircraft equipped with 'sharklet' wing-tips.

The airframer modified the prototype of its narrowbody family (MSN001) with the approximately 2.5m (8.2ft) tall devices and has now begun the flight test programme for the certification and performance validation.

The first part of the campaign is directed at gathering data to fine-tune the aircraft's flight laws, which govern the flight control system.

Airbus expects that the sharklets will cut fuel burn by up to 3.5% over the current configuration with wing-tip fences and increase the maximum takeoff weight by up to 3t.

Starting next year, A320 wings will be manufactured with the required structural reinforcements to allow for the new wing-tip devices as an option.

The planned A320neo, which will enter service in 2015, is to be equipped with sharklets as a standard.

A320 sharklets
A320 Sharlets landing

© Airbus


Source: Air Transport Intelligence news