Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) is optimistic of winning 737 Next Generation winglet retrofit orders in China, following the award of a Chinese supplemental type certificate (STC) that allows the modification to be performed within the country.

In parallel, APB is also pursuing a similar STC for 737-300 "Classic" winglet retrofit work in China and is conducting negotiations on both efforts through China Aviation Supplies (CASC). The potential market expansion into China comes on top of renewed talks with other "Classic" operators now considering the modification, says APB vice-president sales Patrick La Morai. "There's a lot of new interest, particularly in areas like Latin America, where we're seeing a lot of migration to equipment like the 737-300."

The renewed interest in the modification is encouraging news for the company, which was forced to delay the planned STC of the retrofit early in 2003 due to low-speed handling issues discovered during the final phases of flight tests in Arizona.

The 737 STC was finally granted in mid-2003 after the development of a series of aerodynamic modifications that solved handling deficiencies encountered at high gross- weight take-offs around V2 (engine- out safe climb speed). The first retrofit was carried out on a 737-300 operated by Spanish charter airline AirPlus Comet.

Meanwhile, Aviation Partners Boeing has launched a winglet programme for the 737-600 on the back of a launch order from Canadian low-cost carrier WestJet. The airline, which last year placed orders and options for winglets to equip up to 94 Next Generation 737s, will provide an aircraft for the flight tests.

These are scheduled to run from March to May 2006.


Source: Flight International