Tamarack Eyes Airbus A320s For Active Winglet Upgrade

An Ampaire Eco Caravan is pictured with active winglets

Credit: Tamarack Aerospace Group

ORLANDO—Active winglet manufacturer Tamarack Aerospace Group says it is assembling a “coalition” of airlines and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) operators to help offer its technology for retrofit of Airbus A320 narrowbody airliners.

Speaking with reporters Oct. 17 at the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE), Tamarack founder and CEO Nick Guida said his company has placed fuel-saving winglet extensions on nearly 10% of Cessna Citation-series business jets,  positioning it to target a $10 billion addressable market for A320s.

“We’re going after the A320,” Guida said. “Now that we have 170 aircraft flying and we’re creeping up on 10% of the addressable fleet of Citations, it’s hard to discount us.”

Tamarack led off its press conference by announcing a memorandum of understanding with hybrid-electric aircraft developer Ampaire to provide its winglets for Ampaire’s Eco Caravan, Eco Otter and Eco King Air conversions. The companies said joint development work has already begun.

Tamarack also reported being in active talks with three presales purchasers of Beechcraft King Air 200 and 300 turboprops slated for its Smartwing upgrade. In September, the Sandpoint, Idaho-based company announced the first active winglet retrofit of Textron Aviation’s Citation M2 Gen2.

Active winglets dynamically respond to changing loads and conditions, optimizing an aircraft’s aerodynamic efficiency by increasing lift and reducing drag. The modification reduces fuel burn and associated CO2 emissions. Tamarack says the efficiency gains are three or four times that of passive winglets.

Guida said A320-family and Boeing 737 narrowbody airliners are responsible for most of aviation’s CO2 emissions, presenting the company with an opportunity to offer active winglets for sustainability objectives. Tamarack in past years has held discussions with Airbus about the winglet upgrade, he said, but “couldn’t get past” an intellectual property issue with its patented technology.

Tamarack envisions a 2.5-year process to certify the modification on A320s, an effort that Guida compared to Aviation Partners’ Blended Winglet adaptation of Boeing Business Jets. “Our team is not worried about upsetting Airbus; we’re just worried about getting a plane in the air,” he said. “We’re just following the same path that Aviation Partners did.”

The coalition of airlines and MROs Tamarack is assembling will have “big names that derisk this whole thing for everyone,” and provide both capital investment and in-kind services, Guida said. “We have 32 people at Sandpoint; we can’t do it ourselves.”

Bill Carey

Based in Washington, DC, Bill covers avionics, air traffic management and aviation safety for Aviation Week. A former daily newspaper reporter, he has covered the commercial, business and military aviation segments as well as unmanned aircraft systems. Prior to joining Aviation Week in November 2017, he worked for Aviation International News and Avionics and Rotor & Wing magazines.