Delivering ahead of schedule, GKN Aerospace recently supplied Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) with the first blended winglets for the Boeing 737-300/500. Under a multi-year agreement finalized in April 2007, GKN is to deliver 200 737-300/500 blended winglet aircraft sets over several years.
The winglets are produced at GKN Aerospace’s facility on Isle of Wight, U.K.
Winglets are transforming the performance of aircraft today, according to GKN. By significantly reducing drag, blended winglets cut the aircraft’s fuel consumption by about 5%—improving performance and reducing environmental impact. The company notes that blended winglets can be retrofitted to the huge number of aircraft already flying, as well as fitted to new airframes.
“By 2010, just over two years from now, APB has predicted that blended winglets will have saved the world’s airlines over 2 billion gal of fuel,” said Jeff Armitage, Vice President and Director, Nacelles, GKN Aerospace. “For 737-300/500 operators, APB estimates savings of up to 100,000 gal of fuel per aircraft per year.”
GKN’s move into blended winglets is a key business development for the company.
“This is a key contract for GKN Aerospace here in Cowes, and it is our aim to play a significant part in this hugely promising market in the coming years,” Armitage said.
GKN is a second-source supplier to APB for the winglets. “GKN Aerospace is one of the world’s top producers of aerospace composite structures, and this agreement [allows] us to significantly increase blended winglet production on our 737-300/500 program,” said APB CEO John Reimers. “We look forward to working with GKN Aerospace as the world airline industry continues its transition to blended winglet technology.”
Each 737 winglet is 7 ft long. The composition is primarily carbon-fiber composite and the process is hand-laid.
The agreement between GKN and APB also calls for delivery of 300 sets of 11-ft-long winglets for the Boeing 767-300ER. Like 737 winglets, 767 winglets will be produced at the GKN facility on the Isle of Wight. The company is responsible for design, development, and manufacture of the 767 winglets, unlike the 737 winglets, which are built-to-print.
APB is a joint venture between Aviation Partners and Boeing, and its headquarters are in Seattle.