THE sharklets (or winglets) are aerodynamic devices mounted on the wingtips of modern aircraft. They are designed to improve the aerodynamic performancesave fuel and reduce CO2 emissions.
Sharklets look like small vertical fins angled upwards, hence their name, which evokes the dorsal fins of sharks. Their primary role is to reduce vorticity-induced drag at the wing tips, which occurs when air flowing below the wing meets air flowing above, creating a swirling vortex at the tip. of the wing. This induced drag is a source of aerodynamic resistance which affects the efficiency of the wing and leads to increased fuel consumption.
By adding sharklets, aircraft designers manage to reduce the size and intensity of this induced drag. This results in improved wing efficiency, allowing the aircraft to consume less fuel for the same distance flown. Reducing the induced drag also contributes to increasing the aircraft’s range and improving its performance during the climb and cruise phases.
The installation of sharklets on existing aircraft is also common, as it allows airlines to modernize their fleet without having to acquire new aircraft models. These devices are often retrofitted to older aircraft to improve fuel efficiency.
In addition to the economic benefits, sharklets have significant environmental benefits. By reducing fuel consumption, they help reduce CO2 emissions and greenhouse gases, which is crucial for commercial aviation due to its impact on climate change.
In summary, sharklets on the wingtips of aircraft are aerodynamic devices designed to improve wing efficiency by reducing vorticity-induced drag. Thanks to this improvement in aerodynamics, planes equipped with sharklets burn less fuel, which leads to savings for airlines and reduced CO2 emissions, thus helping to make aviation more environmentally friendly.