Lufthansa today took delivery of it’s latest Airbus A320. Normally a new A320 joining the fleet does not garner too much fanfare or attention but this A320 is different. For the first time, a “Sharklet” equipped aircraft sports the Lufthansa livery. Sharklets, for you non-Avgeeks, are basically vertical extensions to an aircraft’s wingtips that help the aircraft and airline in a multitude of ways.
The 8 foot tall sharklet mimic the outer tips of a bird’s wings and help the aircraft by reducing drag and and enhancing overall aerodynamic perfomance. These impressive “wingtips” also help the aircraft climb at steeper angles which comes in handy when operating in and out of airports with Noise Abatement Procedures that are common throughout Europe.
I mentioned that this enhancement helps an airline as well. The Sharklets have been engineered in such a manner that they actually improve an aircraft’s fuel consumption by 1-4% and reduce carbon emissions by the same factor. Based on Lufthansa’s own calculations, a A320 operating with Sharlets will save approximately 1000 tons of CO2 emissions per year or the equivalent of the annual total pollution of 200 cars. All this from a pair of 8 foot tall enhancements to an airliner’s wings!
You’ll start to see these new A320 populate the fleet over the coming months and years. By 2015, 22 new Sharklet-equipped A320s will be delivered to Lufthansa and will be used to replace older aircraft. According to Lufthansa, these A320s will be primarily used on their longest intra-European routes. I suspect that means we won’t see it anytime soon on the 20 minute “long-haul” flight between Munich and Nuremberg……but at least you’ll still be served breakfast on that flight!!