The Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) joint venture has in recent weeks signed additional airline customers for its Boeing 737NG split scimitar winglet modification since receiving a firm commitment from launch customer United Airlines in January. The new winglet design improves upon the aerodynamic efficiency of APB’s blended winglet for the 737NG, enabling an estimated 2-percent extra reduction in fuel consumption.
On August 7, Toronto-based charter and scheduled carrier Sunwing Airlines said it plans to retrofit its fleet of Boeing 737-800s “this winter” with split scimitar winglets. On July 29, TUI Travel, based in Crawley, UK, said that it will replace blended winglets with the new winglet on 737-800s operated by its Arkefly, Jetairfly, Thomson Airways, TUIfly and TUIfly Nordic fleets; the first modified aircraft will begin operating in January.
The split scimitar winglet modification replaces the aluminum winglet tip cap of the 737NG blended winglet with an aerodynamic “scimitar” winglet tip cap and adds a new scimitar-tipped ventral strake on the winglet’s outboard lower side. TUI said that it expects a 2-percent fuel saving on top of the 5-percent savings blended winglets provide over an aircraft with no winglets. APB said split scimitar winglets installed on a provisioned 737-800 will save a typical airline more than 45,000 gallons of jet fuel per aircraft per year. With the fuel savings, airlines could increase the 737-800’s payload by up to 2,500 pounds or its range by up to 75 nm.
Sunwing Airlines will retrofit eleven 737-800s with the new winglets; the airline leases other aircraft to meet seasonal travel demand. TUI did not disclose the number of 737-800s that it plans to retrofit with new winglets. Its subsidiary airlines operate 144 aircraft of different types. TUI Travel holds a 49-percent share of Sunwing Travel Group, the parent company of Sunwing Airlines, and also leases aircraft to Sunwing.
APB formally launched the split scimitar winglet program in January when it received a firm order from United Airlines to retrofit the carrier’s 737-800 fleet. The company conducted the first test flight of a United 737-800 retrofitted with the new winglet on July 16 in Everett, Wash. APB aims to obtain U.S. Federal Aviation Administration supplemental type certification of the 737-800 winglet in October, with European Aviation Safety Agency certification following within two months. United plans to begin installing the new winglets next January.
In June, APB launched a split scimitar winglet program for the Boeing 737-900ER after United converted options to firm orders for 135 of the extended range 737s. The company plans to begin certification flight-testing of the 737-900ER winglets in November, and is aiming for FAA supplemental type certification in late February. APB said it is targeting six more 737NG configurations for possible new winglet certification, including the Boeing Business Jet based on the 737-700/800.