Airbus tests blended winglets, A400M engines

Airbus is working with Aviation Partners to develop blended winglets for the A320; also, Airbus has successfully tested engines for the A400M military transport aircraft.

Airbus SA (Toulouse, France) has started flight-testing of blended winglets on an Airbus A320. The winglets, developed by Aviation Partners Inc. (API, Seattle, Wash.), have been specially adapted for these tests on the A320 Family.

The objective of these tests and the subsequent evaluation is to identify the performance and economic benefits that these devices could offer for Airbus aircraft. In conjunction with follow-up analyses, they will provide data on the overall viability of the devices and help to determine whether API's technology could be considered for an integrated Airbus program.

Patrick Gavin, Airbus' executive vice president engineering, said, "We continue to work on further improving the eco-efficiency of all our aircraft. These early evaluation tests are a milestone that need to be achieved long before implementation. The A320 Family is the most efficient in its class, and we continuously study potential improvements to keep it unmatched for the years to come."

Airbus also reported that has successfully tested the turboprop engine that will be used on the A400M military transport aircraft. Testing was done in England, with the engines attached to a specially adapted Lockheed C-130 aircraft. Testing lasted one hour and 15 minutes. The A400M has been delayed twice already, in part because of problems involving the engine system. A group of four European aerospace companies helped to develop and build the engine: Britain's Rolls Royce, France's Snecma, German firm MTU and the Spanish company ITP.

Finally, Airbus parent European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. (EADS, Amsterdam, The Netherlands) announced that the EADS Board of Directors has adopted a simplified and leaner divisional structure. Primarily, the Military Transport Aircraft Division (MTAD) will be integrated into Airbus, which will simplify the A400M management and allow an optimized alignment of resources. MTAD will become the military pole of Airbus under the name of Airbus Military; it will keep its current core capabilities to design and certify aircraft, to integrate mission systems on military aircraft, and it will operate the A400M Final Assembly Line. It also will be in charge of all Airbus military derivatives including the tanker and will retain the CN235/C295 programs. This integration aims to reinforce the management of Airbus military derivatives programs, and to maximize synergies with other Airbus functions and entities.