PANAMA CITY BEACH — A Bay County company that is manufacturing an adhesive product for jet wings that could significantly reduce fuel costs is ready to enter into contracts to sell the products to major airline companies.
Over the next several weeks, Edge Aerodynamix will be converting the test-data contracts of its existing airlines to revenue-based contracts for its 737 fleets, according to a company press release.
In November 2016, the FAA approved the company’s “Conformal Vortex Generator” (CVG) product that is manufactured at its facility at 416 Richard Jackson Boulevard.
“The CVG design is proven to reduce fuel consumption, which translates into increased profitability for airlines using the Edge Aerodynamix designed CVGs,” said Peter Ireland, a pilot who is the CEO of the company that is headquartered in Panama City Beach but also has offices in Malta and the Bahamas.
Buddy Black, the company’s director of product research and development, said the company could end up hiring an additional 100 people in Bay County in the coming years.
“We have about 10 full-time employees,” he said Friday. “We anticipate a significant increase in that when it comes to sales and manufacturing and marketing of the product worldwide. We also will immediately increase our research and development activities, because the technology applies to a lots of things other than just airplanes, like wind turbines and other surfaces that go through the air.”
Black said the company is “ready to go to marketing” the product. “It should be a pretty good business for the Beach, and hopefully Bay County in general,” he said. “We have four different airlines that have signed contracts to do data for us. And our anticipation is when we present them the results (of the fuel savings), we’ll convert them into paying customers. For the airlines, it is essentially free money. They have got to fly the flights. If they put this product on, they can do it more cost effectively.”
The product is made here, but the airline companies are responsible for installing it on the wings of their jets.
“We use rotary dye cutters to cut the product and then we have to inspect it under FAA certification and we distribute it to the airlines,” Black said.
Over the last few years, the company has been testing the product on a company airliner at the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport. The patented product has been designed and approved for installation on all Boeing 737 aircraft, company officials said.
Since November, the company has been testing the product on six major passenger airlines on four continents. The data from the test fleet has demonstrated fuel savings in excess of 2 percent due to improved wing aerodynamics, which could result in a reduction in fuel costs of more than $180 million per year fleetwide, a company press release states. The product can be installed on a 737 series aircraft in about two to three hours, which will immediately provide increased fuel savings and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, the company reportsBlack said he couldn’t divulge the details of pricing, but he did say it would be a cost-sharing agreement between Edge Aerodynamix and airline companies. “I can certainly assure you it is incredibly cost efficient for the airlines,” Black said. “They are going to save money (on fuel), and we essentially are going to get a percentage of that savings.”