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System Airframe Upgrades

As air traffic demand increases over the coming years, the aviation sector must cater to the new systems required to support proportional growth. Benefitting from a team of highly-skilled staff who thrive on innovating and delivering solutions, Airbus is able to set new standards by offering customers the latest technology in terms of avionics capability and performance. The drivers for such enhancements may be safety, or simply the need for more efficient flight trajectories. Upgrades can enable reduced costs, time, fuel use and importantly emissions, while maintaining the highest air safety standards.



System upgrades

Airbus can:

  • Enhance aircraft performance
  • Customise aircraft performance
  • Improve flight efficiency
  • Align with new regulations
  • Adopt latest materials and technology
  • Customise configuration to suit regional needs

Change the aircraft role:

  • VIP conversion
  • Install or remove cargo loading systems
  • Harmonise fleet configuration
  • Enhance the aircraft market value
  • Reduce noise and emissions

For comprehensive details on what retrofitting services Airbus is able to offer please consult the Services by Airbus portfolio.

Weight variants

Changing aircraft weight variants can allow customers to optimise range and payload to fit their operations and increase revenue

  • For more range: increase maximum take-off weight (MTOW);
  • For more payload: increase maximum zero-fuel weight (MZFW) or MTOW;
  • To reduce the fees (take off, landing, flight): decrease MTOW;
  • For more flexibility: change from single WV (weight variant) to multiple operational weight variant (MOW) or dynamic WV;
  • Due to airworthiness authorities regulations: change from multiple WV to single WV.

Air Traffic Management system

Brand new systems enable efficient and safe flight operations in three main domains: 

  • Communication: data link & SATCOM needs with FANS A+/B+, Iridium or Inmarsat solutions;
  • Navigation: optimised flight paths with RNP-AR;
  • Surveillance: collision avoidance and automatic data broadcasting with the ADS-B Out.

Sharklet retrofit

Sharklets are the most visible development of the A320 Family airframe in recent years. They are wingtip devices which increase the effective wing span of the aircraft and reduce lift-induced drag. Sharklets were introduced as an option on line-fit aircraft in 2012, and 94 per cent of A320 family aircraft delivered today have them fitted from the final assembly line. Having transformed the performance and appearance of the new Airbus fleet, they are now available for retrofit on the in-service A320 Family fleet, significantly increasing the residual value of all aircraft that have them fitted. They also have distinct advantages in accessing certain airports and reduce engine maintenance costs by 2 per cent. 

With a fuel-burn saving of over 4 per cent on the longest routes, Sharklets offer a range of tangible benefits which significantly improve an aircraft’s efficiency and profitability. Sharklets also offer a boost to either payload or range – adding up to 100 nautical miles or 450 kilogrammes per payload. 

Retrofitting Sharklets also can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 800 tonnes per year per aircraft, and can offer an operational service limit extension for aircraft between MSN1200 and MSN5514 – typically adding 36,000 flight hours, or 10 years of additional service.

Extended Service Goal

Aircraft are delivered from the production line with a certified maintenance program designed to be utilised up to the aircraft design service goal (DSG). This is defined in terms of flight hours (FH) and flight cycles (FC). A rigorous testing program is carried out on a representative aircraft to highlight what modifications are necessary to continue the maintenance program after the DSG. Upgrade services provide the appropriate service bulletin to allow operations until the defined extended service goal.

In order to reach an extra six to 13 years of operations, two steps are required:

1 Component upgrade, RDAS and concessions review

2 Structural upgrade

Related publications

  • FAST #60 / October 2017
    - Optimise the skies
    - RSC traceability
    - Aquarius
    - electronic Quick Reference Handbook
    - Fleet-wide systems maintenance
    - FAST from the past
    - Around the clock, around the world

    Download the magazine as a .pdf file (8.5 MB)

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