Farnborough Air Show

Air Europa embraces winglets for its 737 fleet

 - November 27, 2006, 7:25 AM

Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) has announced today that Spanish carrier Air Europa has become the latest customer for its “Blended Winglet” technology, which is said to offer airlines block fuel savings of up to 5 percent. The operator is to buy up to 21 shipsets for retrofit to Boeing 737-800s, as well as ordering a further 34 sets to equip 34 B737-800s scheduled for delivery between 2007 and 2014. Air Europa parent Globalia Mantenimiento Aeronautico will fit the equipment.

Air Europa, which has been flying five “wingletted” 737-800s for about five years, would become one of APB’s largest European customers. Maria José Hidalgo, the airline’s chief executive, said the equipment will permit Air Europa to hedge escalating fuel costs.

The Spanish operator also flies five Boeing 767-300ERs and could be the prospective customer for winglets for this type. After a long search, APB is known to have been working with a prospective customer to launch the equipment for the larger aircraft. APB also has been working on a 777-200ER winglet design.

Last month APB announced Turkish-based airline SunExpress would retrofit four leased  B757-200s with blended winglets, with which it hopes to achieve 3.5-percent fuel savings. Such installations are being performed by Aeromexico and, in Europe, by UK maintenance provider ATC Lasham. SunExpress has winglets on nine 737-800s.

Five years after delivery of the first blended winglets, there are now some 1,150 aircraft flying with the equipment, according to APB. So popular has the modification proved for retrofit or new-build use on various aircraft that APB, a joint venture between Boeing and equipment developer Aviation Partners, expects to provide a further 1,500 shipsets within just two years, according to sales vice president Patrick LaMoria. The 10 carriers with the most wingletted aircraft– three operators have each placed orders for more than 200 sets–have together accounted for almost 1,200 of the more than 2,000 shipsets ordered.

APB claims that in typical use, with 5-percent fuel savings equivalent to 100,000-plus U.S. gallons/year, 737-700/ 800 winglets can pay for themselves in as little as three years. Additional benefits are said to include reduced engine maintenance costs, improved take-off and range performance and lower engine emissions.