Our winglets are worth a thousand words

Almost a decade after they made their commercial debut on a Boeing Next-Generation 737-800, our blended winglets are still giving travelers a reason to smile. Our good friends at WestJet are now featuring a program called “Winglet Wednesday.” The airline asks passengers to snap photos of the winglets as they travel to and from their favorite destinations.

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Mt. Rainier in the distance on a delivery flight from Boeing Field to Calgary.

Since the program began a little over a year ago, more than 1000 photos have been uploaded to WestJet’s Facebook page.

“It has been a crazy success,” Greg Hounslow with WestJet told us. He says the program is a great way to connect with passengers who want to share part of their travel experience.

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This view of Montego Bay may help your winter blues.

While they photograph well, our blended winglets do a lot more. Their primary functions are to reduce drag, save fuel and cut emissions. The fuel burn improvement is up to 4 percent on the 737 and up to 5 percent on the 757 and 767.

So the next time you fly WestJet, be sure to snap a photo of the winglet and share your view with the rest of us!

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Feeling lucky over Vegas.

Comments (16)

John Madison (Seattle):

What a great marketing idea! Since these particular winglets are unique to Boeing aircraft and that they have WestJet's internet address, both enterprises benefit from the "Branding" effect. The participating customer photographers can take pride in their amazing photo backdrops taken wherever WestJet flys. Definitely a win-win-win situation!

Natasha (Alberta, Canada):

I have TOTALLY done this!!!
Every trip we take a pic of the WESTJET wing! :)

may georgina delory (toronto):

It sure is a lot of fun trying to get a picture of the wing. Last year on a return visit to Florida after 30-years I took a shot of Fort Lauderdale with WestJet wing. I rather like it still.

Thanks for the memories! as Bob Hope would say.

Maxwell George (Ridley Park, PA):

As a native of the beautiful island of Jamaica, the view of Montego Bay does not help my winter blues, it makes me homesick :-)

Allison Clark (Calgary):

Nice post, Randy!
Westjet = FUN.

Go out and play,
Allie
http://facebook.com/goplayallie

Shaun (Edmonton, Alberta Canada):

How do they exactly reduce drag and cut emissions?
I have always been curious about that as it's an addition to the wing how could that be a good thing?

Steven (Seattle):

Shaun,

Winglets reduce the aerodynamic drag associated with vortices that develop at the wingtips as the airplane moves through the air. By reducing wingtip drag, fuel consumption goes down and range is extended. Less fuel consumption means fewer emissions. Here is a great link from NASA if you want to read more.

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/about/Organizations/Technology/Facts/TF-2004-15-DFRC.html

Kevin (Los Angeles, CA):

There are a couple of ways to explain the reduction in drag.

1) The airflow wrapping around the winglets will generate a force with a forward component and reduce the overall drag.

2) Another way to look at is that the winglets make the wing tip vortices smaller--the vortices waste energy and result in the induced drag.

Less drag means less fuel burn which reduces emission.

Matthew Calnek (Everett, Washington ):

I have always greatly enjoyed flying with WestJet - beautiful interiors, great IFE systems, and very pleasant crew. The winglets look fantastic, and the 'picture programs' is great... I'll remember to have my camera ready next time!

Thanks Randy, for sharing this great story.

Chris (Everett, WA):

Shaun - this Wikipedia article is a great explanation of how it works:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winglet

John (Long Beach, CA):

A winglet makes a Wing perform like its longer. Towards the end of a normal wing, you get airflow spill off, making the wing-end less efficient. Adding Winglets acts like a fence, giving you the lower drag benefit of a larger wing with less weight and reduced wing stress. (compared to a normal much longer wing)

I first started playing with them on RC Gliders in the early 80's. Burt Rutan was the major proponet of them back then. Now they are everywhere.

Chris sutton (Newport, Wales, United Kingdom):

Shaun,

The winglets reduce drag and cut fuel by increasing the lift of the wing. On standard wings of an aircraft the lift or airflow will 'fall off' the edge of the wings, therefore increasing vortex and creating drag, the winglets resolve this issue by controlling or containing the airflow over the wing. This in turn will allow the aircraft to use less fuel as less power is required to generate lift or power through drag.

Hope this makes sense. :-)

Paulo M (Johannesburg, RSA):

Awesome.

Very basically, drag. If the wing curves up (most planes), the air flow below the wing tends outwards, while the flow above the wing tends inwards. Where the wing curves down (C-17, An-225), the directions are reversed. The spin you get at the wing tip is a vortex which causes the drag. The winglet "extends" the span, forms a smaller vortex at an optimal setting off the lift area of the wing. I think that's how I understand it.

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

The winglets have truly been advantageous to the fuel saving performance for the 737, every next generation 737 I have seen as well as many classics have the blended winglets installed. The new winglets have now made their way to being equipped on a significant portion of US 757s and many 767s.

Kevin (Los Angeles, CA):

Even for aircraft with anhedral (C-17, An-225), the airflow wraps from below (high pressure) the wing to above (low pressure), hence the vortices are in the same direction.

Brett (CYEG):

I took that pic landing in MBJ :) So cool

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