TOULOUSE, France, 19 Feb. 2012. Drukair, the flag carrier of the Eastern Himalayan mountain Kingdom of Bhutan, is buying one Airbus A319 aircraft fitted with fuel-saving sharklet wingtips for fuel savings and the performance necessary for routine operations at extremely high altitudes.
Drukair operates out of one of the world’s most challenging airports at Paro, Bhutan, which at an elevation of 7,300 feet is more than a mile high. Approach at Paro Airport is by visual flight rules (VFR) only, so Drukair needs passenger aircraft with responsive performance in VFR conditions and in high-altitude takeoffs and landings.
Drukair's existing fleet includes two Airbus A319s, and these aircraft are the largest planes in the Drukair fleet. Paro Airport is surrounded by a tall wall of mountains.
-- Air Namibia orders two Airbus A319s
-- American Airlines splits big narrowbody passenger jet order between Boeing and Airbus
-- Big week for Airbus: airlines order 153 commercial passenger jets in three separate deals.
The Airbus A319 is a slightly smaller version of the Airbus A320 single-aisle jetliner. The aircraft seats 124 passengers and has a range to 3,740 nautical miles. The aircraft also is available with 156 seats for low-cost airlines. The aircraft has a digital cabin management system to control interior lighting, pre-recorded messages, and emergency evacuation signalling.
The A319 also has required navigation precision – authorization required (RNP-AR) procedures combined with required time of arrival (RTA) avionics, which eliminates the need for holds during a flight, and enables a continuous-descent approach. The aircraft also has fly-by-wire flight controls.
Drukair will deploy the sharklet-equipped Airbus A319 to increase capacity on existing regional routes as well as to open up new services to Singapore and Hong Kong. sharklets have been specially designed for the Airbus A320 Family to reduce fuel burn by as much as 3.5 percent, corresponding to an annual CO2 reduction of around 700 tonnes per aircraft, Airbus officials say. The wingtip devices also will enhance the aircraft’s performance.