PARIS Dec 3 (Reuters) - European planemaker Airbus said it won approval from European authorities to deploy drag-reducing wingtip devices that will allow airlines to cut fuel bills by more than it had expected.
The so-called sharklets, which are made from composite materials and are 2.4 metres tall, are upward-slanting wingtips designed to help aircraft fly further on the same amount of fuel.
"The certification of Airbus' sharklets is a milestone which paves the way for airlines to benefit from savings in fuel of around 4 percent," Tom Williams, executive vice president of programmes at Airbus, said in a statement on Monday.
"That's better than we'd anticipated."
The approval applies to Airbus' A320 best-selling family of planes powered by CFM56 engines from CFM International, a venture between General Electric and France's Safran .
Airbus has also been testing the sharklets on A320s powered by International Aero Engines' V2500 engine.
"Certification of the remaining aircraft/engine variants with sharklets will therefore follow in the coming months," Airbus said.
Airbus added that it expects the green light from the European Aviation Safety Agency to be followed "very soon" by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
Airbus and U.S. arch-rival Boeing are focusing on wing enhancements as key selling points for their latest revamped models, with tens of billions of dollars of sales for both firms at stake each year.