has begun flight testing of the latest iteration of the winglet devices it plans to install on narrowbodies, starting next year.
The Airbus A320 flight test aircraft, MSN0001, took off from Toulouse on Nov. 30 at 10:20 a.m. and landed at 3:03 p.m. local time, kicking off a flight test campaign that is expected to run about 220 hours. The first A320 with the winglets, which Airbus calls “sharklets,” installed during the production process should fly next summer to achieve certification before the year-end. The first customer deliveries also are expected to take place next year.
The 2.5-meter tall devices replace the existing wing fences and help the A320 deliver 3-3.5% improved fuel burn.
The devices are standard on the Airbus A320NEO, which is planned to enter service in 2015.
Airbus in recent years evaluated different winglet designs before settling on the version flown Nov. 30.