By Jack David

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Aviation Partners Boeing. S. Air Force dealing with the re-engining of military aircraft. The following four tasks are addressed in this report: 1. Examine the feasibility of modifying Air Force airlift, aerial refueling, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft with winglets, to include a cost-effectiveness analysis of the feasible winglet modifications in net present value (NPV) terms. 2. Determine the market price of aviation fuel at which incorporating winglets would be beneficial for each platform.

Paul E. Hemke, 1928, “Drag of wings with end plates,” NACA TR-267. John M. Riebe and James M. Watson, 1950, “The effect of end plates on swept wings at low speed,” NACA TN-2229. T. 18 WINGTIP MODIFICATIONS 19 did not attain the potential savings suggested by the theory. This was partly due to simplistic design, which often included low-aspect-ratio, untwisted, flat-plate airfoils.  In the early 1970s, Whitcomb10 of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) defined and tested high-aspect-ratio, carefully designed nonplanar wingtips, termed “winglets,” which were soon to appear on numerous aircraft, including Rutan’s VariEze in 1975 and the Learjet 28/29 in 1977.

But from an aerodynamicist’s point of view, the motivation behind most wingtip devices is to reduce induced drag. Beyond that, as Whitcomb showed, the designer’s job is to configure the device so as to minimize the offsetting penalties, resulting in a net performance improvement. There are also aerodynamic and structural aspects that must be considered in the design of the wingtip device. The performance improvement for any particular wingtip device can be measured relative to the performance of the same airplane with no tip device.

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