New scimitar-shaped winglets expected to improve United Airline’s 737NG fuel efficiency by two per cent
The Split Scimitar Winglet on a United Airlines 737-800
Fri 19 July 2013 – A new advanced winglet design for Boeing 737 Next-Generation aircraft has been flight tested for the first time on a United Airlines 737-800. The Split Scimitar Winglet is expected to demonstrate significant further fuel and emissions savings on current technology blended winglets through improved drag reduction. The new winglet was launched in January 2013 by Aviation Partners Boeing (APB), with United announced as the launch customer for the 737-800 version. Last month, United placed a further order as the programme was extended to include the 737-900ER. APB expects a 737-800 retrofitted with the Split Scimitar Winglet to save a typical airline more than 45,000 gallons of jet fuel per aircraft per year, representing a reduction of over 476 tons of CO2, and a similarly-equipped 737-900ER to achieve savings of 57,000 gallons and over 600 tons of CO2.
Under the contract, the aluminium winglet tip caps of United’s Boeing Next-Generation blended winglet fleet will be replaced by new aerodynamically shaped Scimitar winglet tip caps which will have the addition of a new Scimitar-tipped ventral strake. United expects the new winglets to result in fuel savings of around 2% for the 737 and once they have been installed, the combined winglet technology installed across its 737, 757 and 767 fleet is expected to save the airline more than $200 million per year in jet fuel costs.
United will begin retrofitting its 737-800 and 737-900ER fleet with the new winglet beginning early next year, once testing and FAA certification of the winglets are complete.
“We are always looking for opportunities to reduce fuel expense by improving the efficiency of our fleet,” said Ron Baur, United’s Vice President of Fleet. “The Split Scimitar Winglet will provide a natural hedge against rising fuel prices while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions.
The patented design was developed by Austrian company FACC, which also manufactures the existing blended winglets for APB. In the framework of the new project, FACC will also perform the construction, stress analysis, modification and manufacturing of the Split Scimitar Winglet as well as the development and procurement of production tools. The contract, says FACC, involves a three-figure million Euro trading volume and foresees shipments for over 3,000 aircraft over the next five years.
“We are very proud to be working again for APB in this hugely promising winglet programme as development and manufacturing partner,” commented FACC CEO Walter Stephan. “With this, we also look forward to making an important contribution towards ‘greener’ flying with a significantly reduced environmental footprint.”
Aviation Partners Boeing is targeting six additional Boeing Next-Generation 737 configurations for possible certification of the new winglet. The Seattle-based joint venture says nearly 5,000 blended winglet systems are now in service with over 200 airlines in more than 100 countries and are estimated to have saved more than 3.7 billion gallons of jet fuel to date.