Air Berlin is claiming fuel-burn improvements of 4-6% for its Boeing 737-800s after blended winglets were fitted to the aircraft.

The carrier is the first to operate commercial flights using the Aviation Partners Boeing blended winglets. The improvements range from 4-6%, making a huge saving for the airline due to its high utilisation of its 737-800 fleet. Air Berlin technical director Siegfried Olivo says: "The magnitude of performance benefits we're enjoying with blended winglet technology is unheard of in terms of an after-production retrofit."

Normally, you'd be happy to achieve a couple of tenths of a per cent benefit from an after-delivery modification -never in the range of 4-6%." The winglets also allow aircraft to climb faster to altitude reducing both noise footprints and engine emissions.

"Previously, we'd step-climb from 35,000ft (10,600m) to 41,000ft. With blended winglets, we can now climb direct to 41,000ft where traffic congestion is much less and we can take advantage of direct routings and shortcuts which we could not otherwise consider."

He adds that this enhanced climb performance allows the 737-800s to board additional passengers at airports with short runways or at airports with obstacle clearance considerations such as those at several of the smaller Greek islands.

Source: Flight Daily News