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Why passenger jets have curved wing tips

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  • Why passenger jets have curved wing tips

    Revealed: Why passenger jets have curved wing tips (and how they have probably saved you money on a flight)

    • Winglets were developed by a Nasa engineer and tested in the 1970s
    • The engineer was inspired after watching birds curl their wingtip feathers
    • Curved wing tips have helped to reduce emissions and noise pollution

    By Chris Kitching for MailOnline
    Published: 02:30 EST, 3 May 2016 | Updated: 04:32 EST, 3 May 2016

    They are usually decorated with an airline’s logo, website address or colours, but a plane doesn't have winglets for aesthetics or branding.

    Regularly featured in passengers' photos from the window seat, the aerodynamic tips at the ends of the wings come in different shapes and sizes, depending on the aircraft.

    Although planes can fly without them, the curved wing tips play a vital role in keeping travellers safe, lowering emissions and reducing noise pollution along flight paths.

    Airbus, which has incorporated winglets into its many of its aircraft, including the A350 and A380, the very latest passenger jet, said the tips enhance the overall efficiency of aircraft.

    That helps to save fuel by reducing drag while also lowering noise emissions through improved take-off performance, the European manufacturer said.
    ...
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/tr...ane-wings.html
    TANSTAAFL = There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
    “War is merely the continuation of politics by other means” - von Clausewitz

  • #2
    They saved the airline money, but the passengers are still paying out the ying yang
    Don't waste your time always searching for those wasted years...

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    • #3
      They reduce wingtip vortices and therefore lift-to-drag ratio, though IIRC the saving is fleet-wide rather than pronounced drop in costs per aircraft hour.

      I have also heard to opined that they are popular more because of the aesthetics and the ability to paint them than because of any huge aerodynamic improvement
      History is not tragedy; to understand historical reality, it is sometimes better to not know the end of the story.

      Pierre Vidal-Naquet

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      • #4
        Wiki has a well-informed piece on this:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wingti...rner_wing_tips

        When I still flew gliders a lot, I'd see the winglet regularly, and quite a few gliders have the downward angled Hoerner wing tip which is supposed to achieve the same, but being smaller it is less expensive as it is moulded in one piece with the wing.

        An alternative to the winglet is the wing rake (haven't heard of that before):
        In testing by Boeing and NASA, raked wingtips have been shown to reduce drag by as much as 5.5%, as opposed to improvements of 3.5% to 4.5% from conventional winglets.[19]
        "For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return"

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        • #5
          Tried out during the pioneer days of flight but given the smaller size of aircraft and lower speeds it's unsurprising that no effect was observable and the idea was dropped until recentish times
          Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
          Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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          • #6
            An alternative to the winglet is the wing rake (haven't heard of that before):
            In testing by Boeing and NASA, raked wingtips have been shown to reduce drag by as much as 5.5%, as opposed to improvements of 3.5% to 4.5% from conventional winglets.[19]
            Question of efficiency under different flight conditions, I seem to recall. The raked offer better economy for cruise and winglets better lift/drag on climb.

            Tried out during the pioneer days of flight but given the smaller size of aircraft and lower speeds it's unsurprising that no effect was observable and the idea was dropped until recentish times
            It probably only begins to matter with high aspect ratio aerofoils with emphasis on economy.
            History is not tragedy; to understand historical reality, it is sometimes better to not know the end of the story.

            Pierre Vidal-Naquet

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