It has been a common feature on the Boeing Co.’s 737 jets for more than a decade.
An 8-foot-long, sharp curving of the wing tip upward, called a “winglet.” Its purpose is to reduce drag, thus cutting fuel consumption.
Boeing introduced winglets as an option on its new 737 Next Generation aircraft in the late 1990s. The winglets reduce fuel consumption by 3.5 percent to 4 percent on trips over 1,000 nautical miles, Boeing estimates.
A joint venture between Boeing and Aviation Partners Inc., Aviation Partners Boeing offers winglet retrofits on several models of Boeing 737s, 757s and 767s. More than 3,700 aircraft are equipped with winglets.
In March, Aviation Partners Boeing announced that their winglets had saved approximately 2 billion gallons of jet fuel since being introduced. The company estimated a cost savings to airlines of more than $4 billion over that time. The fuel savings also translates into a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of about 21.5 million tons.
Boeing’s rival Airbus recently introduced similar technology on its single-aisle A320 family of jets. Airbus has dubbed its curved wing tips “sharklets” and received its first tentative commitment for an A321 with sharklets on June 10 from Finnair.