A United Airlines Boeing 737-800 retrofitted with new split scimitar winglets has performed its maiden test flight.
The Boeing 737-800 with the new split scimitar winglet design ‒ similar to that to be used on the Boeing 737 MAX family ‒ made its first test flight on July 16, from Paine Field in Everett, Washington.
According to United Airlines, the new winglet design improves on the existing blended winglets currently fitted to the carrier’s Boeing 737NG fleet.
In January, United served as the launch customer for the new split scimitar winglet when it made a firm commitment with Aviation Partners Boeing to retrofit its Boeing 737-800 fleet. In June, United announced it would also retrofit its Boeing 737-900ER fleet.
Using a newly patented design, the program consists of retrofitting United’s Boeing 737NG blended winglets by replacing the aluminum winglet tip cap with a new aerodynamically shaped “Scimitar” winglet tip cap and adding a new Scimitar-tipped ventral strake.
“We are always looking for opportunities to reduce fuel expense by improving the efficiency of our fleet. The Next-Generation 737 Split Scimitar Winglet will provide a natural hedge against rising fuel prices while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions,” says Ron Baur, vice president of fleet for United Airlines.
According to United, the new winglet design demonstrates significant aircraft drag reduction over the basic blended winglet configuration United uses on its current fleet. United expects the new split scimitar winglet to result in approximately a 2 per cent fuel saving for any 737NG fitted with it.
Once the split scimitar winglets are installed, United expects the winglet technologies installed on its 737NG, 757, and 767-300ER fleets to save it more than $200 million per year in jet fuel costs.
United will begin retrofitting its 737-800 and 737-900ER fleets with the new winglets beginning early next year, once testing and FAA certification of the winglets are complete.