Airbus has completed the first flight in a new round of trials of A320 winglets, in the hope of finding further efficiencies for its best selling product.
Flight testing using the Aviation Partners Inc. (API) blended winglets commenced today.
The aircraft, MSN1 (which was also used in earlier winglet trials) took off at 10:45 local time from Airbus's Blagnac base outside Toulouse.
Airbus hopes this set of winglets can generate fuel burn savings without requiring too much structural reenforcement. Earlier flight trials using different configurations required too much stiffening, Airbus said, so it didn't go ahead with the upgrade.
One of the big questions will be one of fuel price. During the summer, when fuel prices were at their highs, the efficiencies gained by winglets paid for themselves quickly, so the business case was clear. At the low fuel prices of today, the math looks quite different.
In any case, the verdict on how the new set of winglets performs is still out.