Tuesday, March 27, 2012

WINGLETS

Srinivas Rao | 1:22 AM | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

It’s a nearly vertical airfoil at an airplanes wingtip that reduces drag by inhibiting turbulence.
( Merriam-Webster dictionary)

First known use of winglet dates back to as early as 1611.


EVOLUTION OF WINGLET

NASA’s pioneering research in the 1970’s as part of energy efficiency program to conserve energy in aviation resulted in Winglets finding acceptance with airplane manufacturers and airlines alike.
Richard Whitcomb was instrumental in conducting test to explore hypothesis that a precisely designed vertical wingtip device could weaken wing tip vortices and thus diminish induced drag which translates into less fuel burn and better cruise efficiency.(NASA website)

American, Southwest, Ryanair, and others took advantage of fuel efficiency that comes with winglets and partnered with Boeing –Aviation Partners group(ABP) to have winglets installed.
Wing Tip fence
Wingtip fence is the preferred device of Airbus to tackle and reduce induced drag on wingtip.Airbus also has ambitious project in introducing Sharklets, akin winglets on its A320 neo and also an active proposal for the same to be introduced on A330.





AERODYNAMICS OF WINGLET

Winglets
Lift is the force that makes the aircraft fly. Lift is a result of unequal pressure in a wing as air flows around it with positive pressure underneath the wing and negative pressure above.
Drag is the resistance encountered while moving through the airflow. Considerable amount of drag is also generated from the high pressure under the wing, which causes air to flow up over the wing tip and spin off in a vortex.. These vortices produce what is called induced drag which hampers aircraft fuel consumption, range, speed and so on.





Sharklets
 Hence, the primary aim of winglet is to break the wing tip vortices and reduce the induced drag and increase aircraft performance. Fuel savings are estimated between 4-6% by employing winglets.  Initial results as released by airbus for A330 program indicate fuel saving in excess of 3.4% and increased take off weight. Also, the noise footprint will be reduced along with better carbon footprint in light of emissions being the centre stage of aviation policies.
(Acknowledgements: Airbus, NASA and Merriam-Webster)












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