APB selects UK supplier as it launches 767-300ER programme with American order

UK-based GKN Aerospace has been selected by Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) as a new supplier of the US company's blended winglets for the rapidly expanding Boeing 737 "Classic" and newly launched 767 retrofit programmes, while United Airlines is poised to start retrofitting its 757s.

The aerostructures specialist joins APB winglet supplier Kawasaki Heavy Industries. Winglets for the 737 Next Generation and 757 retrofit lines are produced by Austrian-based Fischer Advanced Composites. Despite the much-needed addition of GKN, APB says the 737 Classic retrofit line is sold out through 2009 at the rate of six shipsets a month. "We're still going to ramp up as fast as we can, but it will be the end of this year or early next before they can begin providing the first parts," says APB vice-president sales Patrick LaMoria.

United Airlines is, meanwhile, expected to become the latest major 757 operator to announce its selection of the blended winglet to reduce fuel costs. The airline, which operates 97 757-200s, is expected to start by retrofitting a sub-fleet from September. Other 757 winglet customers include American Airlines, Continental Airlines and Northwest Airlines, while LaMoria adds that others including Delta Air Lines are "very interested".

The GKN deal comes as American Airlines is announced as launch customer for the long-anticipated 767-300ER retrofit. The identity of the remaining two launch carriers, one in Europe and the other based in South America, could be revealed as early as the end of this week, says LaMoria. "The other US majors are also very interested in the 767 winglet," he adds.

A leased American 767 will be provided for an eight-month flight-test certification programme, from January 2008, with the supplemental type certificate expected around October-November 2008, says LaMoria. The 3.35m (11ft)-tall winglets are expected to reduce fuel burn by between 4% and 5%, and could extend range by more than 600km (325nm). American plans to install winglets on all its 58 767-300ERs by mid-2010.

American Airlines/Boeing Winglets
Aviation Partners Boeing 
An eight-month flight-test certification programme will be carried out by a leased American Airlines Boeing 767 

Source: Flight International