After a number of A320 aircraft were retrofitted with more fuel-efficient ‘Sharklet’ wingtips in 2009, the company is to pursue a retrofit option of large winglets for the legacy in-service fleet.
In 2009, the entire fleet of A320 aircraft belonging to Air New Zealand were fitted with Sharklet wingtips, that enhanced environmental and the payload-range performance of the aircraft. To retain its status as the leader in aircraft eco-efficiency, Airbus invests approximately EU100m each year.
Airbus has a number of major operations in the UK, particularly in relation to the manufacturing of wings for its aircraft. At sites in Filton near Bristol and Broughton in Wales, over 9,000 people are employed. The announcement that Airbus is evaluating the technical, operational and business aspects of a retrofit offering to provide a solution for A320 Family aircraft currently in service is good news for the UK.
Tom Williams, executive vice president, programmes, said: “We are confident that our customers will appreciate not only the benefits from improved fuel efficiency that retrofitting large winglets will bring to their in-service A320 Family fleets, but also from the enhanced residual value.”
He added: “We’ve begun investigating in earnest, and our technical teams are confident that we can develop a retrofit solution. We are committed to making it happen either in-house or with external partners.”
The previous experience Airbus has in retrofitting aircraft wings in for Air New Zealand puts the plane maker in a uniquely advantageous position over its competitors in providing fuel-efficiency through post-modifications.