Australia's flag carrier, Qantas, is making minor tweaks to its Boeing 737-800 fleet, adding split scimitar winglets to more than 25% of the aircraft to improve fuel economy.
The blended winglet design, which debuted after the 737 Next Generation family introduction, was evolved into the split scimitar winglet. Although both designs decrease air resistance and noise from aircraft, split scimitars are said to increase efficiency by as much as 2%.
A video that showcases the installation of one of the new split scimitar winglets and highlights the differences between the designs was posted by Qantas. In Brisbane, the retrofitting procedure has started, and the additional winglets will be installed on 23 aircraft. Qantas expects that installation and testing will take more than 400 hours and several days. With installations expected to be finished by 2026, the airline hopes to contribute to the industry-wide objective of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 by reducing CO2 emissions by up to 8,000 tonnes.
Chief Sustainability Officer Andrew Parker of Qantas stated, "The introduction of these new winglets is just one of the many changes, big and small, that our customers will notice as we shift towards more sustainable operations."
With an average age of 15.9 years, Qantas operates 75 737-800 aircraft on both domestic and international routes. Six of the 69 planes that are currently in use are parked. It's still unclear if the parked planes are being retrofitted with split scimitars.
VH-VZU was the first aircraft to be fitted with the new winglets. Flight data indicates that on December 17th, it traveled from Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport to Brisbane Airport, where it has stayed ever since. Once the refit has been confirmed completed, the aircraft should be back in service soon.
These retrofits were announced by Qantas in its sustainability report from the previous summer, wherein the revised winglets were highlighted as providing further aerodynamic benefits in addition to improving efficiency.
Early in2013, Aviation Partners Boeing installed split scimitars, first on freshly constructed 737-800 and -900ER models and then as retrofit options. The first airline to use them was United Airlines, and then Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines. Split scimitars are similar to 737 MAX wingtips, however they are not the same. The MAXs have winglets made of Advanced Technology.
In conclusion, Qantas' implementation of split scimitar winglets is consistent with larger industry efforts to reduce emissions and represents a step towards increased fuel efficiency and sustainability in its operations.