Fuel Burn Saver, Sharklet Fitted Airbus A320 Successfully Completes First Flight Test


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Fuel Burn Saver, Sharklet Fitted Airbus A320 Successfully Completes First Flight Test

By Shane Nolan

December 1, 2011 - Airbus has completed the first flight of the ‘Sharklet’ wing-tip devices on the company’s A320 development aircraft (MSN 001). This milestone marks the start of the early flight-test campaign to capture data for fine-tuning the flight laws, as well as for certification and performance validation. 

Sharklets are around 2.5 meters 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 percent, corresponding to an annual CO2 reduction of around 700 tons per aircraft.

This reduction is equivalent to the CO2 produced by around 200 cars annually. 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 Airbus’ Chief Operating Officer Customers, John Leahy. “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 A320neo Family, which on its first anniversary after launch has attracted almost 1,500 orders and commitments from 26 customers, the Sharklets will contribute together with the new engines to 15 percent in fuel savings. 

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer, Rob Fyfe commented: “Air New Zealand recently decided to move to an all A320 fleet for narrow-body operations on domestic and short-haul international routes. The new Sharklets will enable our Airbus fleet to benefit from lower fuel burn and carbon emissions, both across Air New Zealand’s domestic network and especially on the longer trans-Tasman sectors.” 

Airbus Chief Operating Officer - Customers, John Leahy said: “The eco-efficient A320 Family just keeps getting better. We are delighted that Air New Zealand recognises that our single-aisle Family will remain the most profitable product in its class for years to come.” He added: “Sharklets are not just part of Airbus’ response to addressing environmental issues and rising fuel costs, but they also enhance aircraft overall performance.”


Airbus forecasts the world’s single-aisle airliner fleet to double to more than 23,000 aircraft by 2030, with an average annual fleet growth of 3.4 percent. This expansion will require around 19,200 new single-aisle aircraft deliveries for replacement and growth. Airbus’ continuous product improvement investments of around 250 million euros annually in its single-aisle aircraft portfolio alone, the A320 Family is well positioned to capture a leading portion of this market.

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