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Boeing’s Blended Winglets Have Saved 6 Billion Gallons of Fuel

14 April 2016

Aviation Partners, Inc. and Aviation Partners Boeing have announced that their joint venture Blended Winglet Technology has saved the world's commercial and business jet operators about six billion gallons of jet fuel, and reduced CO2 emissions by 64 million tons. This is equivalent to the fuel used in one year by approximately 12 million passenger cars.

Aviation Partners' Blended Winglets are now flying on more than 7,000 individual jet airplanes and more than 20 airplane types.

Plane sporting Blended Winglets. (Image Credit: Aviation Partners Boeing)Plane sporting Blended Winglets. (Image Credit: Aviation Partners Boeing)

Blended Winglets were initially investigated by Boeing in the mid-1980s and then further developed in the early 1990s by Seattle-based Aviation Partners, Inc. The technology provides a transition region between the outboard wing, typically designed for a plain tip, and the winglet. Without this transition region, the outer wing would require aerodynamic re-design to allow for the interference between the wing and winglet surfaces.

The first Blended Winglets were used on Gulfstream II airplanes and their efficiency got the attention of Boeing in 1999. Boeing adopted the Blended Winglet technology as standard equipment for the BBJ in 2000 and APB certified the winglets for the 737-700 and 737-800 airplanes in 2001.

The Winglets reduce the drag caused by wingtip vortices, the twin tornadoes formed by the difference between the pressure on the upper surface of an airplane's wing and that on the lower surface.

By reducing drag, Blended Winglets increase fuel efficiency and boost range. The Blended Winglets feature a large radius and smooth chord variation in the wing-to-winglet transition area.

The latest Winglet design, called the Split Scimitar® Winglet, uses existing Blended Winglet technology but adds new aerodynamic Scimitar tips and a large ventral strake to increase the efficiency of the airplane. This new design is already flying on nearly 700 Boeing 737 Next-Generation airliners and business jets.

"We are proud to be the world leader in the field of fuel savings for commercial airlines and private aviation," said Joe Clark, founder and CEO of API, and Chairman of APB. "We look forward to adapting our current and in-development Winglet technology to both existing airplanes and new production designs in the near future."

The companies expect the amount of fuel saved to grow to more than 10 billion gallons by the end of 2019.

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