Andrew Doyle/HANOVER

Hapag-Lloyd will become the first airline operator of the Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) blended winglet-equipped 737-800s early next year when it starts a major retrofit programme for its in-service fleet.


The airline is in "final negotiations" with APB and a memorandum of understanding is due to be signed imminently, according to Hapag-Lloyd managing director Wolfgang Kurth.

The drag-reducing winglets - expected to cut block fuel consumption by at least 3.5-4% - were initially developed for the Boeing Business Jet, but are now being offered for the 737-800. South African Airways recently became the first airline to specify the winglets for the type, but Hapag-Lloyd will be the first operator.

Kurth says the airline will retrofit nineteen 737-800s and include the 2.4m (7.9ft)-tall winglets on all future deliveries, with 26 of the type to have the modification by next May. He says the winglets are expected to pay for themselves within five years. List price for a kit shipset is $725,000.

The modification requires "minor reinforcements at the tip of the wing", says APB 737 programme manager Bob Kiser. These will eventually be included as standard on all new 737-800s to be built.

Boeing and APB are to carry out a joint certification programme using one of Hapag's 737-800s, which is expected to include 125h of flight testing. Approval of the wing structural modifications is expected by November, with winglet certification following in January 2001.

Most of the retrofit work - about 900 man hours over five or six days of downtime - concerns wing strengthening, which Hapag will start once that portion of the certification is complete.

The blended winglets are also offered for the 737-900 and 737-700C combi, though Boeing is still evaluating the feasibility of fitting them to the -600 and -700, which use a structurally different wing.

Source: Flight International