Scimitar winglet deal handed to Austria's FACC

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Austrian firm FACC has secured a deal to produce the new split scimitar winglets for the Boeing 737, a modification selected by United Airlines earlier this year.

Winglet specialist Aviation Partners Boeing has given FACC a contract for the development and manufacture of the tips, which are intended for retrofit on certain members of the 737NG family.

FACC already builds blended winglets. The scimitar advances this design with a different tip cap and a ventral strake - a shape which is similar to, although not the same as, that planned for the new 737 Max.

The company, which says it produced the initial prototype in just three months, values the deal at "three-figure million" euros and forecasts that over 3,000 aircraft will receive the scimitar winglets over the next five years.

FACC says flight tests indicate a "significant" reduction in aerodynamic drag compared with the regular blended winglets, drawing another 75nm (140km) in range from the 737-800 or allowing another 1.1t (2,500lb) in payload.

"Thanks to the optimised aerodynamics the new split winglet design enables the airlines to have lower costs and a higher efficiency in aircraft operation," says FACC chief Walter Stephan.

United's 737s will be modified by replacing their winglet tip caps and adding the strake. Aviation Partners Boeing is expecting certification on 737s from the -700 up to the -900ER, with the -800 first in line.

The early certification, intended for October this year, will focus on retrofit of -800s which were delivered with wings already capable of supporting the regular blended winglet - line numbers 778 onwards.

Certification efforts will then turn to the 737-900ER with the aim of securing approval by March 2014. In addition to the range benefits, Aviation Partners Boeing plans to certificate a low-speed performance improvement to aid take-off from hot-and-high, or obstacle-limited, airports.