MIAMI — United Airlines has installed Split Scimitar Winglets on a Boeing 737-800 (N37277) aircraft at its Orlando maintenance base. On Tuesday, United Airlines became the first airline in the world to fly a passenger flight with Split Scimitar Winglets. Flight 1273 from Houston to Los Angeles was the first flight.
A Brief History of Winglets
Through a joint venture between Boeing and Aviation Partners Boeing, the Blended Winglet was introduced in the late 1990s, and the first 737 aircraft with the Blended Winglet debuted on March 25, 2001.
In 2011, Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) released the design of the new Split Scimitar Winglet design. The new design was developed for the 737MAX program, and a retrofit program for 737NG aircraft was introduced in early-2013. Testing of the new design began in August 2012 when a 737 Boeing Business Jet was retrofitted. According to Flightglobal, “APB founder Joe Clark said that analysis from last year indicated a 2.5 to 3% reduction in fuel consumption for 737NGs.”
However, this was not the first Split Scimitar Winglet concept. When the MD-11 was introduced in the mid-1980s, it was rolled out with a winglet above and below the wing.
A split-tip winglet design was also proposed for the McDonnell Douglas MD-12, but McDonnell Douglas opted not to build the MD-12.
Now, fast forward to July 2013. Aviation Partners Boeing leased a United Boeing 737-800 aircraft to test and certify the Split Scimitar Winglets for a retrofit program. Earlier this month, the FAA certified the new design and the retrofit program. Later this year, United will work with APB once again to get certification to install the new design on Boeing 737-900ER aircraft.
Why are they so special?
Boeing and Aviation Partners Boeing say that Split Scimitar Winglets will have a significant reduction in aircraft drag over the basic blended winglet configuration.
Boeing and APB expect that once United retrofits their fleet it, United will have an additional 2% fuel savings for their 737 aircraft with an annual $200 million savings in jet fuel costs. United also plans to retrofit their 757 and 767 fleets with the new winglets.
When retrofitting an aircraft, the Blended Winglets are removed, and an a new aerodynamically shaped “Scimitar” TM winglet tip cap is installed. Plus, a new Scimitar tipped Ventral Strake is installed below the wing.
First Passenger Flight
United completed the first passenger flight with Split Scimitar Winglets Tuesday afternoon from Houston IAH to Los Angeles as United 1273.