Monarch Aircraft Engineering (MAEL) has completed the retrofit installation of a set of Sharklet wingtip devices on one of the Airbus A321s operated by the group’s airline, Monarch Airlines. A second A321 will be retrofitted at the end of this month.
The production retrofit on the International Aero Engines’ V2533-A5-powered aircraft (registration number G-ZBAE), which was delivered new to Monarch Airlines last May, was carried out at MAEL’s new maintenance facility at Birmingham Airport. It took a team of six airframe mechanics – three on each wingtip – and an airframe-licensed technician plus two avionic mechanics and an avionic-licensed technician two day shifts (including one night shift between the day shifts) to complete the fit and avionic functions required. Each Sharklet is 2.40 meters high and weighs 200 kg.
The newly fitted wingtip structures “will lower fuel burn up to 4%, reduce carbon emissions, and lengthen the aircraft’s service life, thus maximizing Monarch Airlines return on investment for the Sharklet retrofit,” a spokesman says.
MAEL, which claims to be the first MRO in the U.K. to perform the Sharklet modifications on A320 family aircraft, says the cost of the production retrofits depends on whether the installation is a standalone task and how many aircraft in the line are being modified. “Also, if the modification is being done as part of other maintenance,” a spokesman adds. The MRO service provider says several operators are already expressing interest in Sharklet upgrades.
Monarch Airlines currently operates eight A320s and 21 A321s. Two A320s and two A321s have arrived with Sharklets installed. The carrier is not looking to equip the 23 older A320 family aircraft with the fuel-saving wingtip devices.
A complete so-called in-service retrofit of A320 family aircraft, in which the wings were not structurally reinforced in production to support the Sharlets, would take about 13 days at a MRO facility. Airbus sees a potential market for the Sharklets’ retrofit on some 4,000 in-service A320 family aircraft.