Airbus has started flight-testing of Blended Winglet devices on an Airbus A320. The Blended Winglet technology, developed by Aviation Partners Inc. (API), has been specially adapted for these tests on the A320 Family.
The objective of these tests and the subsequent evaluation is to identify both the performance and economic benefits that these devices could offer for Airbus aircraft. In conjunction with follow-up analyses, they will provide data on the overall viability of the devices and help to determine whether API's technology could be considered for an integrated Airbus programme.
Furthermore, this evaluation is being carried out as part of our wider goal of extending the market-leading eco-efficient credentials of Airbus aircraft. Research flight testing of two different winglet designs was performed two years ago and valuable experience was gained. Since that time, Airbus has been working to absorb and build on these lessons.
Patrick Gavin, Airbus' Executive Vice President Engineering says, "We continue to work on further improving the eco-efficiency of all our aircraft. These early evaluation tests are a milestone that need to be achieved long before implementation. The A320 Family is the most efficient in its class, and we continuously study potential improvements to keep it unmatched for the years to come."
In this latest initiative, tests will be performed on the flight test A320, MSN1 - the same aircraft that hosted flight tests of previous winglet proposals. In this way, Airbus continues its work on evaluating wing-tip designs for the A320 Family and assessment of innovative ways of reducing the impact of the higher structural loads, without incurring major structural weight increases.
Airbus leads the way in wing-tip design with every current Airbus product, including the A320, fitted as standard with drag-reducing wing-tip devices.