US company reports strong airline interest in its Boeing 737 Classic fuel-saving wing modification
AeroTech Services' wing modification
Thu 31 Jan 2008 - Reno-based AeroTech Services says it is in negotiations with several major commercial airlines and talking with a number of others regarding its fuel-saving wing modification for the older Boeing 737 Classic Series aircraft (-200, -300, -400 and -500). The modification enables airlines to potentially reduce fuel burn and carbon dioxide emissions by up to 4% under typical flight conditions.
“The recent fuel cost crisis and public awareness of greenhouse gas emissions have woken up all the airlines,” said James Nettle, Director of AeroTech Services. “We are being inundated with an unprecedented level of interest from major carriers all over the world.”
The modification increases the aircraft’s wing area and camber, resulting in an increased lift-to-drag ratio, effectively cutting fuel burn and emissions during climb and cruise periods. It takes typically 300 man-hours to install, which means it can be carried out during regular maintenance visits, and can, claims the company, earn back a 100% return on investment in fuel savings after about 12 to 15 months of commercial use, or 3,000 flight hours. The cost, subject to increases in materials, is around $140,000 per aircraft. The modification has been approved by all the major regulatory bodies.
The fuel savings are accumulated during climb and cruise periods so the benefits of the modification will largely accrue to those airlines with longer flight sectors. AeroTech’s performance engineers can assess the potential overall savings by collecting an average flight profile from prospective customers.
AeroTech quotes IATA statistics which show that each kilogram of fuel saved reduces CO2 emissions by 3.16 kilograms. If the fuel consumption of a B737 Classic is reduced by just 3%, says the company, it would equate to a reduction of over 645 tonnes of CO2 emissions per aircraft per year under typical commercial operations.
AeroTech’s goal is to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions on 1,000 of the B737 Classic Series worldwide by 2010. This equates to a reduction of 645,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, calculates the company. Despite the high demand for the newer, more fuel-efficient and more environmentally-friendly next-generation series B737s, the Classics still make up the largest fleet of aircraft in the world, with around 2,600 in commercial service.
Once the 737 project gets off the ground, Nettle says the company may look at applying the modification to the Boeing 747, which has the same type of flap system and burn 4.5 times as much fuel.