Icelandair emerges as second customer and evaluates the upgrade for 767-300ERs

Flight tests of the first Boeing 757 equipped with Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) blended winglets are set to begin next month, pending completion of installation of the first units in January.

The work on the first 757, a -200 belonging to launch customer Continental Airlines, comes as Icelandair emerges as the second customer for the modification. Icelandair has ordered seven shipsets, plus options for 15. Deliveries of the first modified aircraft to the Icelandic carrier are expected to begin late this year. The overall orderbook, including options, is also larger than the current Icelandair fleet, suggesting that the airline is already negotiating for more used aircraft.

Work on the first aircraft is taking place in close conjunction with Continental, which is partnering Aviation Partners Boeing on the certification effort.

"We have just completed baseline flying, and will start the modification over the Christmas period," says APB chief executive Mike Marino. Modification work is being performed at Goodrich's Everett site near Seattle.

The flight test and certification programme is expected to take about eight weeks, says Marino, who expects US Federal Aviation Administration approval around June. Deliveries to Continental will begin soon afterwards, with Icelandair deliveries dovetailing into the US airline's order stream.

Aviation Partners Boeing says the winglet is expected to lower fuel consumption by up to 5%, depending on route length, or to extend range capability by up to 370km (200nm).

In the case of the Icelandair route structure, the carrier anticipates fuel savings of more than 606,400 litres (160,000 USgal) per aircraft a year.

Icelandair also acknowledges interest in the winglets for two 767-300ERs currently being operated by charter arm Loftleidir Icelandic. "There are other airlines we are also talking to about that who will probably launch first," says Marino, adding that the 767 programme is expected to get the go-ahead in the first quarter of 2005. Flight tests will follow "right on after those of the 757", he adds. Work on a possible 777 winglet is "still in the product development stage" with varying shapes and configurations currently under evaluation, but the 747 winglet effort has been shelved.

Meanwhile, Aviation Partners Boeing's large 737 winglet orderbook has received another boost with the decision by UK-based Flyglobespan to order shipsets for three 737-800s, plus options for 47 aircraft.

Initial shipsets will be installed post-delivery in March, April and May 2005, and mean that the total winglet shipset backlog has now risen to around 300, with more than 500 delivered.



Source: Flight International