"We will carry out a short flight-test programme of the API winglets," says A320 family programme executive vice president Alain Flourens. "We aim to take a decision whether to proceed by the end of the year."
Flourens says that the airframer will strengthen the A320's wingtips for the test with doublers, and will examine the trade-off of the weight increase against the fuel burn benefits. There is also an ongoing weight reduction programme for the A320 which would help counter the strengthening, he adds.
The upgrade is being studied both for newbuild aircraft and for in-service retrofits.
Airbus undertook two evaluations of winglets for the A320 in 2006 - one designed in-house and one by US company Winglet Technology.
However at the time Airbus could not find enough of an improvement to offset the weight increase caused by the strengthening required.
Meanwhile Airbus is planning to undertake studies of an electric taxi device to reduce fuel burn on the ground. "We are looking at installing electric motors in the wheels," says Flourens.
Aircraft profile: Airbus A320