Fuel-saving retrofit for Boeing 767-300s
By Michelle Dunlop
EVERETT – Jet fuel prices are up and lead times for fuel-efficient aircraft are out, leaving carriers with few ways to cut fuel consumption.
That’s where Aviation Partners Boeing comes in. The company has been helping airlines save fuel on single-aisle aircraft flights for nearly a decade. By the end of this year, its “blended winglet” technology could provide a reprieve to operators of Boeing 767-300 Extended Range widebody jets, too.
In 2007, the Seattle-based Aviation Partners Boeing launched the 767-300ER winglet retrofit program, equipping existing 767s with the curved winglet sets. The company plans to have U.S. Federal Aviation Administration approval for its 767 product by the end of November.
Aviation Partners Boeing estimates that 767-300ER winglets provide carriers an average fuel savings of 350,000 gallons annually. That’s about a 6 percent fuel savings. As of mid-May, jet fuel prices had increased 90 percent over the same period in 2007, according to the International Air Transport Association. Adding winglets onto a passenger or a freighter 767-300ER jet can also boost the aircraft’s range by as many as 360 nautical miles and increase its payload by as much as 12,000 pounds, according to Aviation Partners’ predictions.
Aviation Partners Boeing has won orders for 121 sets of 767-300ER winglets from seven customers. That’s more customers than previous winglet retrofit programs had won before receiving FAA certification, LaMoria said. The company expects to sell out retrofit slots for the first year before it receives FAA approval.
Both American Airlines and Delta have put in requests for 767 winglet retrofits. Delta, for instance, plans to have 30 of its 767-300ER jets flying with winglets by 2010. The U.S.-based carrier has options to retrofit the remainder of its 767 fleet. At the end of 2007, that included a total of 50 767-300ER jets.
Boeing has taken orders from 43 customers for 538 of its 767-300ER jets and has delivered 523 aircraft already. That leaves a pretty large market for Aviation Partners Boeing to target. United Air Lines, for instance, has more than 30 767-300ER jets in its fleet.
The jetmaker’s chief executive, Jim McNerney, recently told Boeing investors that he anticipates even more 767 orders in the future, despite going 14 months without a single 767 request.
Part of that demand is due to the delay in Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner – a setback that has driven interest in winglet retrofits on the 767, LaMoria said. Rising fuel costs, however, already had prompted some airlines to purchase the winglets.
“Now they know they may have to keep their planes in service a few years longer, it’s a more attractive case,” LaMoria said.
When Aviation Partners Boeing picks up FAA certification, it expects to pick up more 767 retrofit orders. American Air Lines workers in Kansas City are installing the first 767 winglets and will coordinate with Aviation Partners Boeing on flight tests, LaMoria said. Ultimately, the company predicts it will supply blended winglets for 80 percent of the 767-300ER jets on the market.
Speaking of winglets: Does anyone know if there are plans to retrofit DC-9-80s (MD-80s) with winglets?