On Tuesday the 16th July 2013, a new type of winglet took to the skies for the first time. Forget about the blended winglet or even the sharklet, the new kid in town is the Scimitar Winglet. This new winglet is similar to the Advance Technology Winglet that is destined for Boeing’s new 737 Max aircraft, but is built for the 737NG instead.
The first flight was operated by a United 737-800 (aircraft N37277) and was conducted at Paine Field (KPAE) in Everett. Many of the test flights out of KPAE are operated by Boeing at the north-end of the airport, but this flight was completed at the south-end via Aviation Partners Boeing where the aircraft was retrofitted with the new Scimitar Winglet.
This January, United Airlines placed an order to retrofit their 737-800 aircraft with the Scimitar Winglet. Then last month, they extended it to cover their existing (and new) 737-900ER aircraft as well.
“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 United’s Vice President of Fleet Ron Baur.
By fitting the new Scimitar Winglets to a 737-900ER, Aviation Partners Boeing expects the aircraft to be able to increase range by approximately 60 nm. It may not sound like much but from an airline’s perspective, every little bit counts. Not just range will be extended but the aircraft should also be able to carry an additional 3,300lb [that's a lot of extra bag fees].
The biggest savings will be to the fuel tanks. A whopping 57,000 gallons of jet fuel can be saved for every aircraft, fitted with a Scimitar Winglet, each year. That is same as over 2190 tanks of gas for a Dodge Ram 1500.
Considering that United has over 76 of these aircraft currently flying (with 4 more on order), you can see just why this makes sense for them.
“United Airlines continues to lead the way in adapting its fleet to be as fuel efficient and eco-friendly as possible,” said Aviation Partners Boeing executive vice president and chief commercial officer Patrick LaMoria. “United’s relentless drive to improve fuel efficiency is the perfect complement to APB’s focus on continuous innovation.We are once again very excited to launch another new program with United.”
After further testing, other 737NG aircraft (the BBJ & 737-700) will be able to be fitted with the Scimitar Winglet as well. You can soon expect this new winglet to be a frequent site at an airport near you so have your camera ready.
|This story written by…Malcolm Muir, Lead Correspondent. Mal is an Australian Avgeek now living and working in Seattle. With a passion for aircraft photography, traveling and the fun that combining the two can bring. Insights into the aviation world with a bit of a perspective thanks to working in the travel industry|