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Why modern airplanes have winglets

On average, an aircraft equipped with them can use up to 5% less fuel, and for a typical Boeing 737 commuter plane that can mean 100,000 gallons of fuel a year, according to NASA. The collective savings for airlines are in the billions of dollars. ( More...

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Dave Fletcher 1
Winglets were used on sailplanes starting sometime in the 80s if I remember correctly.
Tim Dyck 1
Interesting. I am not an aeronautical engineer so this was a pretty good article for me.
Rico van Dijk 1
Sesame street level aviation aerodynamics for the masses. Leaves the intelligent few wondering why the 777 has no winglets ;-)
Shenghao Han 4
They actually misquoted Maughmer "They help the climb, but they hurt the cruise"...

The phrase is targeted towards blended winglet and wing endplates, found on 737 NG and Airbus "Sharkets". They act like a surf on surfboards, and prevents high pressure under the wing mix with low pressure above the wing. Thus minimize vortex forming.
With those, planes will have a better coefficient of lift which means they can climb to thinner altitude faster.

Racked wingtip on 777 and 787 helps cruise by increase aspect ratio (wingspan vs wing area). Which helps reduces biggest drag component during cruise, the lift induced drag.

A350's twist is a mixture between racked wingtip and blended wingtip.
Peter Fuller 2
Yes, and the less-than-accurate description of a very common mainline aircraft as a “Boeing 737 commuter plane” is below the standards of Sesame Street.
Ryan Vince 1
The 777 does have raked wingtips which serve the same purpose
hal pushpak 1
And so did the Spitfire..(Down to a sharp point in fact.) It served exactly the same purpose --minimizing the difference between high and low pressure on the wing's upper and lower surfaces and therefore minimizing the formation of vortices. Brilliant!
bentwing60 1
Also leaves a few wondering how much the insurance companies pay out to repair all the tip to tip damage incurred from winglets hitting each other on crowded taxiways, ramps and gate areas that we read about almost everyday? Used to be the big airplane wing passed over the smaller one and vice versa, Alas, no mas.
Shenghao Han 4
They are not supposed to overlap when taxing in the first place…
bentwing60 3
They weren't back then either!
matt jensen 1
And why high wings don't need them
hal pushpak 1
Umm. Newer C-17's
Ken Lane 1
Some do, some don't. Even some Cessna 172s have a bit of a winglet though it angles downward but serves a similar purpose.
bentwing60 1
Guess they didn't get the message, /s
Retrofitting this to older planes takes a STC or supplemental type certificate. People who do that kind of work need a pretty healthy market to offset their R&D costs, or you can't make enough money with the product.
Depending on the part, you may have to do flight tests in all regimes including forward and aft center of gravity, and beyond legal limits. Those tests are expensive.

That's why you don't see these turning up on older planes. There isn't enough $ in the product to justify the expense.

Ken Lane 1
STCs are not cheap. A good chunk of the cost pays for the lawyers.
Gene Joy 0
I remember Burt Rutan using winglets on his aircraft. Creator or copier?
bbabis -4
Rutan’s around the world voyager turned out to be more efficient without the winglets after one broke off and the other had to be shed early in the flight. It returned with more fuel than planned. The SR-71 and U2 had no winglets for a reason. They don’t help aerodynamics. Aircraft that have them are for esthetic reasons only. People think they’re cool.
Peter Fuller 5
Airlines don’t care whether winglets look cool or not, they care about saving money by saving fuel. Winglets do that. The squawked article quotes an unnamed airline CEO on the look of winglets: “You can put a piano out on the end of the wing - if it saves fuel, we don’t care.”


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