MIAMI — Earlier today, Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) announced that Southwest Airlines has ordered Split Scimitar Winglets for its Next Generation Boeing 737-800 aircraft. The retrofit of these new winglets will lower Southwest’s fuel cost and reduce emissions.

A United Boeing 737-800 with Split Scimitar Winglets. (Credits: United Airlines)
A United Boeing 737-800 with Split Scimitar Winglets. (Credits: United Airlines)

Southwest ordered 85 Split Scimitar Winglets to retrofit the 52 Boeing 737-800s currently in its fleet and for the 33 Boeing 737-800s it plans to take delivery of this year. It will begin to retrofit its aircraft during the first half of 2014 at Aviation Technical Services, based in Everett, Washington. Southwest expects all of its Boeing 737-800s to be retrofitted in early 2015.

“Having Southwest Airlines commit to our new Split Scimitar Winglet program is an incredible endorsement of both Aviation Partners Boeing and our products,” said Patrick LaMoria, Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) executive vice president and chief commercial officer.  “With over 10 years experience operating Blended Winglets on their entire Boeing Next-Generation 737 fleet, the upgrade to Split Scimitar Winglets was a natural next step for Southwest Airlines.”

Blended Winglets on a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-800. (Credits: Author)
Blended Winglets on a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-800. (Credits: Bill Abbott)

APB says that Southwest currently saves approximately three percent with the Blended Winglets (the ones currently installed), but with the installation of Split Scimitar Winglets, APB estimates that Southwest will increase fuel savings to approximately five percent per aircraft annually. The savings will help lower Southwest’s fuel cost and reduce emissions.

“Southwest Airlines is continuously searching for opportunities to reduce fuel consumption and to supplement our environmental stewardship,” said Mike Van de Ven, Southwest Airlines executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Aviation Partners Boeing has proven to offer superior technology that performs as promised and we are excited to introduce Split Scimitar Winglets on our 737-800 aircraft in 2014.”

Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) released the design of the new Split Scimitar Winglet design in 2011, but began the design process five years earlier. The new winglet uses the current blended winglet structure, but there are new strengthened spars (the main structural part of a wing), aerodynamic scimitar tips, and a large ventral strake (mounted under the fuselage to improve flight efficiency either by controlling the airflow or providing a stabilizing effect).

A retrofit program for 737NG aircraft was introduced in 2013, and last July, United Airlines became the first airline to fly and retrofit an aircraft with the new Split Scimitar Winglets. United’s 737-800 was out of service for several months for the FAA certification process of the new design. Testing concluded late last year, and it is expected that APB will receive FAA certification later this month.