If you are wondering what winglets are, they are the small pointy extensions of wings that are protruding at an awkward angle on wingtips. If you travel a lot on planes, you might have seen planes with or without wingtips and might have wondered why we need them when planes seem capable of flying without them. Here is why some of the newer planes need winglets on their wings.
According to aeronautical engineer Robert Gregg, Winglets help to reduce the induced drag with the creation of lift. In simpler words, winglets allow aircraft to get airborne much more easily and thus, require less power from the engines which in turn makes way for greater profits and lower emissions that are the goals nowadays. Boeing was the first to introduce winglets on airliners and has since claimed that winglets installed on Boeing 757 and 767 airliners reduce emissions by 5% and improve fuel efficiency by 5% as well. Any airline operating on 58 767 Jets can save over 500,000 gallons of fuel annually.
But that is not the only way to reduce the induced drag and the strength of the wingtip vortices. It can also be achieved by increasing the length of the wings. The longer the wingspan is, the lower induced drag, the aircraft will have to face. But, if you know anything about commercial airliner operations you would know that airplanes don’t simply have the luxury to extend their wingspans. Most of these planes operate on airports that have been designed for only light and medium aircraft. Any elongation of wings would render them unfit to carry out flights from those airfields.
But, in some instances wings are extended instead of going for winglets since there are no space restrictions. The popular Boeing 777 has no winglets and a wide wingspan that makes it one of the most financially viable planes in the market. It is also a general convention that you will only see winglets on smaller airliners and not the jumbo ones. Check out the video below for more: