New Airbus A320 family aircraft come with strengthened wings, ready for the increased aerodynamic loads the Sharklets impose on the wings. It is then up to the customer to choose for a factory installation of either the roughly US$1M winglets, or the standard wingtip fences.
Or, if the customer chooses to, may later swap the wingtip fences with the winglets (Airbus calls them Sharklets), in what is known as a Production Retrofit. The rettrofit kit adds to the cost of the Sharklets.
Jet Blue made “history” by being the first operator to perform a production retrofit, on its aircraft N821JB (MSN 5417 which first flew on the 1st of December, 2012). This aircraft was produced before MSN 5428, which is now registered as 9M-AQQ, flying for Air Asia, and made “history” as the first Sharklet Equipped A320 to be delivered.
The recently delivered A320s to JetBlue, which came without the Sharklets, take less than 2 days per aircraft to fit the Sharklets. However, the older A320s in its fleet, on which JetBlue wishes to fit Sharklets, will need structural modification to strengthen the wings, and will take an estimated 14-21 days at a MRO facility. Newer deliveries will have the Sharklets fitted at the factory.
Watch the two videos, to understand and appreciate the differences between the two ways in which you can strap on the Sharklets: either at the factory, or at your facility.