An industry leader
Airbus has pioneered the use of wingtip devices in aviation for decades, beginning with its cornerstone A300 and A310 jetliner programmes. Both were outfitted with components called wingtip fences – which help reduce the spiral-shaped vortices that form at the wingtips of any aircraft during flight, creating aerodynamic drag.
These wingtip devices – which are arrow-shaped surfaces attached to the tip of each wing – enhance the overall efficiency of aircraft, saving fuel by reducing drag while also lowering noise emissions by improving take-off performance.
Experience gained with the A330/A310 was applied to Airbus’ initial wingtip fences for the A320 Family, which measure 2.4 metres in height. They were followed by the incorporation of wingtip fences and larger winglet-type devices on the A330, A340, A380 and – in the future – Airbus’ new-generation A350 XWB.
The best gets better
Airbus’ next step is the large Sharklets™ wingtip devices, representing another element in the ongoing continuous improvement programme for its best-selling A320 Family. These devices improve aerodynamics, reducing fuel burn by up to 4 per cent – which amounts to annual savings of more than 900 tonnes of CO2 per aircraft.
AirAsia – a low-cost airline in Asia as well as Airbus’ largest A320 Family airline customer – became the first operator to receive a Sharklet-equipped jetliner in December 2012 with delivery of the milestone A320ceo (current engine option) aircraft. The following year, Airbus delivered the initial A319 and A321 variants featuring these devices, which were received by American Airlines and Finnair, respectively.
Airbus additionally has launched a Sharklet retrofit for earlier production, in-service A319 and A320 jetliners. Announced in October 2013, the programme will reinforce the wing structure and incorporate these wingtip devices – delivering significant cost saving and performance improvements. More than 4,000 A320 Family aircraft are eligible for this retrofit, which will be available from 2015.
Offered as optional equipment on new-production A319, A320 and A321 aircraft, Sharklets also are included standard on the three A320neo (new engine option) versions of Airbus’ single-aisle family jetliners (A319neo, A320neo and A321neo), in addition to two new powerplant choices for further fuel savings and enhanced performance.