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Airbus to flight-test wing tip devices for A320 family


European airframer Airbus is to next month flight test two different wing-tip devices on its A320 development aircraft as part of study looking at possible applications for its single-aisle aircraft.

US budget carrier JetBlue Airways will also provide an aircraft for part of the flight test programme, while Airbus says Wichita, Kansas-based Winglet Technology is providing one of the winglet designs for testing.

The manufacturer says: “With the advent of more sophisticated analysis techniques, in particular in the context of A380 development, Airbus recently reviewed the application of more advanced methodologies to the A320 family wing. This allows Airbus today to consider the application of new wing tip devices.”

The first set of wing tip devices arrived at the A320 final assembly line in Toulouse at the start of the month, and the second set will follow in the coming weeks.

Airbus says it will record a large set of parameters during the coming months of flight tests. “Depending on the outcome of a thorough analysis of the results achieved, Airbus will decide later this year on the way forward,” the company says.

Wing tips are designed to improve wing aerodynamics, and thus reduce fuel burn – particularly timely given the recent spiralling in fuel prices.

GRAHAM DUNN / LONDON

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