Alaska wings it

You hear so much about the environment and the things we all can do to conserve energy and resources, but sometimes you forget that you can do big things in a lot of little ways.

That’s why I want to share an item I saw about how Alaska Airlines is taking a number of steps to reduce emissions and save fuel. For starters, they’ve just introduced their first 737-900 equipped with Blended Winglets. By the end of next year, the airline expects that 64% of its fleet will be flying with winglets.


A winglet’s-eye view of Washington’s Mt. Rainier. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines)

As you may know, not only do winglets just look cool, they help airlines conserve fuel. Alaska says the winglet-equipped 737s in their fleet help reduce fuel consumption by 3% - or about 100,000 gallons of fuel a year, per airplane.

A little piece of trivia for you: about 90% of the 737s coming off the production line today have Blended Winglets. So that’s a lot of cool-looking, fuel-efficient airplanes rolling out of Renton!

Anyway, check out what else Alaska is doing to save fuel, such as updating its fleet with new, efficient Next-Generation 737s, using GPS technology to help fly more direct routes, and even putting into use lighter weight catering carts on board.

These are the kinds of improvements and innovations you’re going to see more and more airlines put into place to not only help reduce their operating costs, but reduce their impact on the environment.

Comments (7)


Winglets are generally a positive initiative, but they come with an opportunity cost. The more low cost airlines slash fares, the more people will travel by air. If we really want to cut carbon emissions, than highspeed trains are arguably better where possible. Im looking forward to seeing the 737 replacement in the next decade, hopefully we will see a further 15% reduction in emissions per passenger over todays 737s and A320s.

Chris C (South Africa):

The Boeing 737NGs equipped with the fuel-efficient Boeing Blended Winglets certainly are very sexy looking airplanes, and I concur with your assessment that they are cool-looking but further, I would say that they also help keep the globe a cooler place as well. Interesting to note that the blended winglets offer a 3% reduction in fuel-burn on the 737NGs, as not only is that a great help to the already very efficient 737NG design, but that the 3% figure seems to be quite common with winglets!

The phenomenal 747-400’s winglets help improve the range of the -400 by 3% through drag reduction, as well as improved the take-off characteristics, and enabled the -400 to obtain higher cruising altitudes quicker. I believe the impressive raked-wingtips on the 747-8 also reduce drag in the region of 3%.

G (France):

It seems that Boeing is always trying to improve the efficiency of their airplanes. This report says that there is a potential to improve 777's fuel efficiency by more than 15%.

Chris C (South Africa):

There is certainly a huge amount of market interest in the proposed Boeing 787-10x. Clearly, the super-efficient 787 Dreamliner is the way of the future and the 21st Century Flagship airplane due to its superior technologies, efficiencies and capabilities amongst a long list of other significant advantages. In my humble opinion, I would have to concur with some analysts that the -10 should be optimised as a 315-seat, 7,500nm range airplane, and thus essentially a 777-200ER replacement airplane.

Further, I would have to say that a 777-300ER and -200LR featuring 787 technologies would, as Emirates President Tim Clark says, “be a world beater”. Nevertheless, whatever the 787-10 involves into, it will be the leader in its respective market.

Richard Maneschi:

Well done clever Boeing for helping Alaskan Airlines save fuel!

Why does B737 have the upward curvy winglets, while A380 has arrow shapes going up and down ?

The "phenomenal" 747-400 has angular winglets, pocket rocket 737-900 (and Gulfstream 5) has curved winglets, 767-400 and 747-8 has raked, Airbus has arrow shapes.

And Season's Greetings to you Randy T, Randy B, Chris C and Everyone!

Dick Kubb (Lake Havasu City):

What is going on with the Dream liner ?
I don't have any --Schadenfreude --,but i read in the German Papers ,that more then 70 Airbus Planes where Ordered by the Saudis and not one Boeing Plane, and now US Airways is buying 10 Airbus Planes .Will Boeing sees to Exist or will the get some Brains in the System and start Producing Airplanes again, in 5- Years China and Japan will make there own Planes, and not wait on Boeing .
How can You make a New Airplane on only One Assembly line ,Build another plant and get two lines going before you loose more Orders .

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

I am glad to see the basic model of the Boeing 737-900 get blended winglets, I wonder if Alaska Airlines
plans to put blended winglets on their 737-400, that
would look nice.

I wonder if Continental and Northwest Airlines plan to put blended winglets to their Boeing 757-300 as
they have planed with their 757-200,I am sure they
will produce the same fuel savings as the winglets have on the other aircraft.

As for the 787-10, I think applying the 787-3's winglets to the 787-9's wingspan applied to the
787-10 model would be very beneficial and as Chris
C said could be a replacement for the 777-200 with a range of at least 7,800 nm.

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