Airbus has completed the first flight of the ‘Sharklet’ wingtip devices on the company’s A320 development aircraft (MSN 001), marking the start of the early flight-test campaign to capture data for fine-tuning the flight laws for Sharklet-equipped A320s, as well as for certification and performance validation.
Sharklets are around 2.5 meters (8 feet) tall and will replace the aircraft’s current wingtip fence.
Offered as an option on new-build aircraft, Sharklets have been specially designed for the Airbus A320 family to reduce fuel burn by up to an additional 3.5 per cent, corresponding to an annual CO2 reduction of around 700 tonnes per aircraft.
This reduction is equivalent to the CO2 produced by around 200 cars annually, according to Airbus. The wingtip devices will also enhance the aircraft’s performance.
“The hunt is underway for Airbus to take another bite out of airlines’ fuel bills and CO2 emissions,” says John Leahy, Airbus’ chief operating officer customers. “With this start of Sharklet flight-testing today, actions speak louder than words as we take another definitive step towards greener aviation.”
A standard fit on the Airbus A320neo family, which on its first anniversary after launch has attracted orders and commitments for almost 1,500 aircraft from 26 customers, the Sharklets will contribute together with the new engines to 15 per cent in fuel savings, Airbus says.
Airbus forecasts the world’s single-aisle airliner fleet will double to more than 23,000 aircraft by 2030, with an average annual fleet growth of 3.4 per cent. This expansion will require around 19,200 new single-aisle aircraft deliveries for replacement and growth.