Business aviation services provider Comlux Aviation has become the first company to opt for a retrofit of sharklet wing-tips on an Airbus corporate jet (ACJ), with the modification carried out in August.

The upgrade to its ACJ319, performed by Portugal’s TAP Maintenance & Engineering and managed by Airbus, is designed to boost fuel efficiency of the VIP airliner by up to 4% and increase the range of twinjet by cutting drag.

“Comlux has always been a leader in Airbus corporate jets,” says company chairman Richard Gaona – a reference to the operator’s long-standing loyalty to the VIP airliner family.

Flight Fleets Analyzer records a fleet of three ACJs in service with Comlux – an ACJ318 and two ACJ319s. The Zurich, Switzerland-headquartered operator also has an order for three next-generation CFM International Leap 1A-powered ACJ319neos, which are scheduled to be delivered green in 2019 to Comlux’s US completion centre in Indianapolis.

Comlux ACJ319 Sharklets 2

TAP Maintenance & Engineering

The sharklet wing-tip modifications are available as a line-fit option on A320ceos and as a standard on the re-engined A320neo series. In addition, they can be retrofitted on older in-service examples from serial number 1,200 upwards, says Airbus.

Flight Fleets Analyzer records a global fleet of around 180 ACJs.

Meanwhile, ACJ320neo launch customer Acropolis Aviation says it will select the engine supplier for its new VIP narrowbody by the end of the year; Neos are available with either Leap-1A or Pratt & Whitney PW1100G geared turbofans.

“We are continuing to analyse the data from CFM and Pratt & Whitney,” says Andy West, charter sales executive for the Farnborough, UK-based VIP charter company.

“We have a little more data on the PW1100G as the engine has been flying in commercial service with Lufthansa since January. The Leap-1A only entered service in August [with Pegasus Airlines], so we will need a lot more information before we make our decision,” West adds.

Acropolis is looking at engine performance and efficiency in terms of range, weight and fuel savings, says West. “The ACJ320neo will be flown on long-range routes such as London to Los Angeles, Tokyo and Johannesburg, so these characteristics are important,” he adds.

Acropolis already operates a CFM56-powered ACJ319, which will be sold when the re-engined twinjet arrives. “The green Neo is scheduled for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2018 and should enter service by early 2020,” says West, adding that the company has not yet selected a completion centre. “There is plenty of time to make our choice,” he adds.

Source: Flight International