Boeing 737 MAX to sport new winglet

The Boeing Co. says new wing tips for the re-engined 737 MAX will cut fuel consumption even better than existing winglet technology.

The new design, called the “dual feather winglet,” will save 737 MAX operators an additional 1.5 percent on fuel, Boeing said in a statement Wednesday. The company previously had estimated the MAX would offer fuel savings of 10 percent to 12 percent compared to the current 737.

Boeing’s existing Next Generation 737 already comes with a so-called blended winglet — a wing tip that bends upward at the end. The winglet on the 737 MAX will have two tips, one bending up, the other down.

“Incorporating this advanced technology into the 737 MAX design will give our customers even more advantage in today’s volatile fuel-price environment,” Jim Albaugh, president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said in the statement.

Boeing launched the upgraded 737 MAX last August to compete with the A320 new engine option, or A320neo, which rival Airbus announced in late 2010. Both re-engined single-aisle jets are expected to offer improved fuel savings.

“The concept is more efficient than any other wing-tip device in the single-aisle market because the effective wing span increase is uniquely balanced between the upper and lower parts of the winglet,” said Michael Teal, chief project engineer for the 737 MAX.

Boeing said the dual feather winglet was validated during wind tunnel testing of the 737 MAX. The new winglet fits existing airport gate constraints “while providing more effective span, thereby reducing drag,” the company said.

“We have assessed the risk and understand how to leverage this new technology on the MAX within our current schedule,” said Teal. “This puts us on track to deliver substantial additional fuel savings to our customers in 2017.”

The company estimates the 737 MAX will use 18 percent less fuel than the current Airbus A320. In 2009, Airbus announced it would offer fuel-saving wing tips that the company calls “sharklets” as an option on the A320. Last month, the first A320 with sharklets rolled off the production line in Toulouse, France. Sharklets will be standard on the A320neo.

Both Boeing and Airbus have more than 1,000 orders and commitments each for their re-engined single-aisle jets.

Michelle Dunlop: 425-339-3454 or mdunlop@heraldnet.com.

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