Southwest Airlines has operated its first revenue flight with a Boeing 737 equipped with Aviation Partners’ Boeing Split Scimitar Winglets.
The first Southwest aircraft sporting the Split Scimitar Winglets is a Boeing 737-800 which previously had Blended Winglets fitted.
Southwest Airlines now intends to fit Aviation Partners Split Scimitar Winglets on all its other existing Boeing 737-800s in place of the Blended Winglets they now have installed.
According to Southwest, the newly designed winglet differs from those currently installed on the carrier’s fleet of Boeing 737NG jets. It has aerodynamic scimitar tips and a large ventral strake on the bottom of the blended winglet structure.
By upgrading its existing 737-800s with Split Scimitar Winglets from the Blended Winglets with which they are now fitted, Southwest expects its annual fuel savings to increase from approximately 3.5 per cent per aircraft to approximately 5 to 5.5 per cent per aircraft annually.
In addition, the new winglets will reduce emissions proportionally, producing a substantial environmental benefit.
Southwest will have Split Scimitar Winglets installed on 33 new 737-800s once they are delivered to the airline this year. After that Southwest is due to take delivery of another 33 new Boeing 737-800s and these aircraft also will have Split Scimitar Winglets installed.
Two of Southwest’s existing 737-800s have had Split Scimitar Winglets installed to date and the airline also plans to retrofit the other 52 737-800s already in its fleet. It expects to complete the 737-800 retrofits by early 2015.
The airline also holds options for 36 Boeing 737-700 aircraft, but it has the right to convert these options to specify Boeing 737-800s should it wish. Should Southwest do this and exercise the options, these aircraft would appear likely to have Split Scimitar Winglets installed too.
All of Southwest’s Boeing 737-700s and 737-800s, as well as a majority of its 737-300s, are now equipped with Blended Winglets, saving the carrier roughly 55 million gallons of fuel annually. Blended Winglets were first installed on Southwest Airlines Boeing 737s in 2007.