AVIATION PARTNERS Boeing (APB) have announced that United Airlines is the launch customer for the company’s new Split-Scimitar winglet, and will see the first examples in service in October of this year. The concept, first revealed in late 2011, was a fairly ambiguous programme until Boeing revealed their own plans to introduce a factory-standard split winglet on the B737MAX family. Interestingly, Boeing’s own winglet lacks the scimitar shape (the sharp sweepback at the tip) that features on APB’s design.
This news provides further clarity on the split-scimitar product, which is optimised for the B737NG family, and is currently available as a retrofit option for B737s that are fitted with blended winglets. The company will replace the winglet cap with a scimitar-shaped tip and before adding a ventral strake which will also feature a scimitar tip. In the future, the new winglet will be available as a new design that can be added at the assembly lines. The model will be introduced initially on the smaller of the B737NG models (excluding the non winglet equipped -600) and will eventually feature on the -900ER in March 2014. There is no word as of yet whether the Scimitar retrofit will become available for B737 classics also fitted with blended winglets.
Following this evolution carefully will be Airbus, who have only just seen their own A320 family certified to enter service with winglets fitted following a 10-month flight test programme. This new development from APB leaves the European manufacturer having to prove that their own “sharklet” design, which despite a radical name is a blended winglet, is not already set aside as old technology. The A320neo family is currently also earmarked to receive sharklets however with its design not yet frozen, this could change.