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Seattle aerospace firm claims Airbus copied its blended winglet design

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on Aug. 13, 2012 at 11:49 am |
August 13, 2012 11:50 am

A Seattle aerospace firm that designed and built the upturned wingtips that now grace hundreds of commercial airliners and corporate jets has asked a Seattle federal judge to prevent European planemaker Airbus from selling jets with a similar design.

Aviation Partners claims Airbus copied the design of its blended winglets to use on its own A320 family of single-aisle jets.

There’s more than a chance resemblance between the two designs. Take a look at the planes below. One is a Copa Airlines Boeing 737 with Aviation Partners’ blended winglets. The other is an Airbus equipped with the European company’s own “sharklets.”

Copa 737
COPA 737 with Aviation Partners/Boeing blended winglets

MEA A321 with sharklets
Airbus A321 with wingtip “sharklets”

Airbus experimented for several years with wingtip devices to improve the fuel economy and performance of its A320s. Aviation Partners, in fact, designed a blended winglet for the A320 that Airbus tested for several months before debuting its own look-alike “sharklet.”

Airbus has asked U.S. Dist. Judge James Robart to order the dispute handled in arbitration. It says it didn’t use any of Aviation Partners’ proprietary information in designing its wingtip device.

Airbus had already taken a pre-emptive strike against Aviation Partners by last December asking a court to declare its sharklet design not a copy of the blended winglet.

The European manufacturer says its design was a development of its own, independent research.

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