Sharklet Retrofit

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By Arnel San Pedro

Check and Balance

Sunday, January 27, 2013


AIRASIA and Cebu Pacific have both launched the Airbus 320 with "sharklet" wingtips that will reportedly provide fuel-burn reduction by about 4 percent due to the aircraft's improved aerodynamic feature.

Clark International Airport Corporation President and CEO Victor Jose I. Luciano along with AirAsia Philippines CEO Maan Hontiveros recently welcomed the AirAsia Berhad Malaysia aircraft with the 'sharklet' wingtips.

A fuel-reduction of four percent will mean an annual carbon reduction of at least 1,000 tons per aircraft making the A320 with sharklets the most environmental-friendly aircraft in the world today.

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I just don't know if Airbus can claim of getting the first crack on the 'sharklet' wingtips because Boeing had also the 'winglets' before which are similar in concept to the Airbus' 'sharklets.'

Now, all airlines most of them Low-Cost Carriers (LCCs) that have the A320s will have the opportunity to retrofit their airplanes with the “sharklets” to reduce fuel consumption. The rising aviation fuel cost and increasing competition necessitate the need to find ways of lowering operational cost and the not-so new 'sharklets' will provide fuel efficiency.

A four-percent decrease in fuel consumption, additional 100 nautical miles in range and an increase in payload capacity will spell a big difference in the operational cost of any airline operator. That will also mean profits for them never mind if the aircraft will encircle the skies of the heavily congested Manila before getting the clearance for landing at Naia.

I am sure that most of the LCCs will go back to Toulouse, France for the retrofit or will jut visit world-class MROs like the SIA Engineering at the Clark Civil Aviation Complex to do the retrofit. I just don't know if Airbus will allow the MROs to do the retrofitting because it would entail slicing the outer tips of both wings.

The 'sharklet' wingtips will add up to the weight of the aircraft but will have a tremendous aerodynamic effect on the aircraft. The retrofit programme for the earlier A320 model will be conducted around April, according to Airbus executives. Airbus is currently evaluating demand for a possible 'sharklet' retrofit for the previous wing standard that would entail modification of the wing-tip.

Most airlines have expressed interest to undertake the retrofit that would take at least three weeks.

Well, Cebu Pacific just recently received its brand new Airbus 320 with the sharklet wingtips. Both AirAsia and CebPac will play an important role in the development of the aviation industry in the Clark International Airport and with the advent of environment-friendly aircraft both airlines will further increase passenger volume in Clark.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on January 28, 2013.

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