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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

United Begins Flight Testing New 737 Winglets

United Airlines on Tuesday began flight testing an advanced winglet designed to provide reduce fuel burn on its fleet of Boeing 737s. 
The wing-tip device is the Split Scimitar Winglet from Aviation Partners Boeing (APB), which adds a blended ventral fin to the existing blended winglet design current featured on United's fleet of 737-800s. According to APB, it also adds Scimitar tips and reconfigures the existing span circle on the wings, which the company says computational simulation has indicated would result in a cruise performance gain of more than 40 percent above the original blended winglet configuration on the 737s. 
(Split Scimitar Winglet. Photo, courtesy of United.)
United expects the new winglet configuration to reduce aircraft drag during flight, with a 2 percent fuel savings resulting in a savings of more than $200 million annually on jet fuel. 
"We are always looking for opportunities to reduce fuel expense by improving the efficiency of our fleet. The Next-Generation 737 Split Scimitar Winglet will provide a natural hedge against rising fuel prices while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions," said Ron Bau, vice president of fleet operations at United. 

Both United and APB expect to complete FAA certification of the new winglets early next year, at which time the carrier would begin retrofitting its entire fleet of 737-800s and 737-900ERs with the new winglet configuration. 

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