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Why You Should Care About Airbus' Great White Sharklets

February 21, 2013 at 6:04 PM | by | Comment (1)

No, it's not Shark Week, but airlines are a little obsessed with sharks right now. First there was the news that Lufthansa is testing a sharkskin-like material on their wings, and now JetBlue is flaunting the first Sharklets in the USA. Not baby sharks, sadly, but Sharklets, which is just a slick term for elongated wingtips stuck onto the ends of A320 wings.

Today JetBlue became the first US airline to send an A320 out into the skies with Sharklets, but why should you care?

Well, if you've ever taken a moment to reflect on how much fuel an airplane burns on a flight (900-ish gallons an hour for an A320) and then considered the impact that has on the environment, you'll want Sharklets on your plane.

Simply by adding these doohickies—doohickies which stand 7' 10" tall and weigh 440lbs—the aircraft burns 3.5% less fuel and extends its flight range by another 100 nautical miles. In easy numbers, annual savings per aircraft with Sharklets comes in around 700 tons less CO2 released into the atmosphere. If you want to see some graphics on all this, check out the recent BlueTales blog.

Right now you're probably thinking that you've seen these dramatic wingtips somewhere else before, and you'd be right. They've been on certain Boeing aircraft for a while now, like the 767. Sharklets are just the Airbus version of Boeing Winglets, with an awesomer name. Other airlines sporting Sharklets include AirAsia, Avianca, Jetstar Japan, Lufthansa, IndiGo and, soon, Virgin America.

If nothing else, at least Sharklets provide an excellent excuse for another airplane maintenance time-lapse video:

[Photo: Airbus, Video: JetBlue]

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Airplane maintenance time-lapse video. :)

No excuse needed.

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