Virgin Australia has retrofitted new Split Scimitar winglets on the first of five Boeing 737-800s.
The installation work for the first 737-800 to feature the updated winglets, VH-YIV, was completed in Christchurch between July 23 and August 7, based on images from Virgin Australia and the aircraft’s flight history.
The airline said in a statement on Thursday the five aircraft getting the next-generation winglets would be used on international flights to New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and Bali.
It is the first carrier in Australia to introduce the winglets into service.
“We’ve estimated the winglets will save us approximately 160,000 kilograms of fuel, which equates to 200,000 litres and a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of approximately 515 tonnes, per aircraft, per year,” Virgin Australia acting chief operations officer Stuart Aggs said in a statement.
“That’s the equivalent of planting 7,725 trees, just from one aircraft’s annual savings.”
The Split Scimitar winglets, which have been named after a type of Middle Eastern sword with a curved blade, aim to reduce drag and improve fuel efficiency.
It features a split tip, with one part curved upwards at the end of the wing and a second tip pointing downwards and backwards at an angle.
Figures from the Aviation Partners Boeing website showed the winglets weighed about 150kg. They offered a block fuel consumption improvement of up to 2.2 per cent for a 3000nm flight. The percentage improvement was less for shorter flights.
The winglets, developed by Aviation Partners Boeing, have been available for retrofit on existing 737 Next Generation (the 737-600, -700, -800 and -900/900ER series) since 2014. United was the first airline to fly a 737 with retrofitted Split Scimitar winglets.
The Aviation Partners Boeing website indicated the installation of the Split Scimitar winglets also included some work on the aileron and training edge, as well as other modifications to strengthen the wing. No changes were required to the aircraft avionics or the flight management computer.
At December 31 2018, Virgin Australia had 81 Boeing 737 aircraft, comprising 79 737-800s and two 737-700s. Its low-cost carrier (LCC) unit Tigerair Australia had four 737-800s.
VIDEO: A look at the installation of the winglets from Virgin Australia’s Linkedin page.