Qantas is installing new double-bladed wing tips on 23 of its 737-800s.
The ‘Split Scimitar’ design improves fuel efficiency by up to 2 per cent by reducing air drag that forms behind an aircraft as it flies.
The Flying Kangaroo said each of the next generation winglets, which feature an extra blade below the main wing, would take more than 400 manhours and several days to install and test.
“Winglets help aircraft fly more efficiently and smoother by reducing vortex drag,” said Qantas.
“When an aircraft is flying, air flowing over the top and bottom of the wing creates a long spiral (or, vortex) that forms behind the tip of the wings.
“The drag they create isn’t ideal and places additional resistance on an aircraft, which means we need to use more power and burn more fuel to counteract it.
“Winglets reduce the amount of air from swirling around the end of the wing and reduce the amount of drag.”
Qantas said the 737s chosen for upgrades serviced international destinations, such as Bali and Fiji, as well as some posted on domestic routes.
“While we keep adding more fuel-efficient aircraft, we’re focused on improving the operational efficiency of our current fleet,” said the airline’s chief sustainability officer, Andrew Parker.
“The new winglets are one of the many changes, small and large, that customers will notice as we transform our operations to be more sustainable.”
The wingtips come at the same time as Qantas begins the slow process of renewing its fleet in a program that will transform its domestic and international aircraft.
Internationally, Qantas will receive 12 new 787 Dreamliners and 12 Airbus A350s to replace the bulk of its ageing A330 fleet, alongside a separate order for 12 specially adapted A350-1000 jets to launch Project Sunrise.
Domestically, the airline will purchase 20 Airbus A321XLRs and 29 A220-300s to fly its domestic routes, but with the option to buy many more.
Subsidiary brand Jetstar has already begun welcoming its new fleet of 38 A320neos, comprised of 18 long-range A321LRs and 20 A321XLR aircraft – an even longer-range variant.
Australian Aviation reported last month how the Flying Kangaroo accepted its second new A220.
The aircraft, named ‘Koala’, is painted in a traditional red and white Qantas livery and travelled to Australia via stops in Vancouver, Honolulu and Nadi.