Fins are looking up for composite wing component

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Airbus has received certification from the European airworthiness authorities (EASA) for its Sharklet wingtip devices. The composite units offer a fuel saving of around 3.5%, according to the aircraft manufacturer.

The upturned wingtips, which feature on the Airbus A320 family of aircraft, help enable the planes to reduce engine thrust by 2%, which also cuts maintenance costs.

Tom Williams, executive vice-president of programmes at Airbus, said: "The certification of Airbus' Sharklets is a milestone which paves the way for airlines to benefit from savings in fuel of around 4%. That's better than we'd anticipated.

"The annual greenhouse gas emission reduction per aircraft equipped with Sharklets will be approximately 1,000 tonnes of CO2 – that's equivalent to taking 200 cars off the roads."

The 2.4-metres-tall Sharklets, which are attached to the A320's wing-tips during the assembly process, improve the aerodynamics of the aircraft.

As well as cutting airlines fuel bills, Sharklets will add around 100 nautical miles range and also allow increased payload capability of up to 450kgs.