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What are Winglets for?

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I just got back from some travel and while I was delayed at the airport, I got pretty engulfed looking at the winglets on different planes. Its amazing how varied in shape and size they are. I was just curious what aerodynamic function they serve. Thanks in advance for your wisdom!-------------Holding Short

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Winglets lessen drag caused by wingtip vortices, which are like small horizontal tornadoes that trail being the plane durring flight. If you've ever stood right under a runway while planes land, you can hear them about 5-10 seconds after the plane passes over you - it sounds like a wierd whooshing/choping noise. Wingtip vortices when hit by another aircraft, result in what's known as wake turbulence.

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I dont think the Kings could have described it better. Reminds me of a golf course I used to play across the street from CMH when growing up. It is right under the approach path for 27L and wingtip vortices will part your hair there. I loved that. :)Craig

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They also can help add some lift and stabilize the wing because of the vortices reduction.

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In a way, they make the wing perform as though it were longer by stopping the curling of the air around the tips, which reduces lift at the tips.

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Always thought that they were just the opposite: vortices generators to increase the lift at the wingtips. Like eagles have those particular feathers at the tip of their wings.

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Winglets do increase lift. Dont worry, I had to look it up myself to be certain."A winglet is a wing-like surface attached to the tip of the wing that is used to improve fuel efficiency and climbing capability. It accomplishes this by acting like a small sail with a lift component that generates a traction force, draining energy from the tip vortices. Consequently, it reduces the vortex strength, lowering induced drag. "Induced drag represents 30-40 percent of the total drag of a transport air-plane at the cruise condition, so it has a big impact on fuel consumption," explains Bento Silva de Mattos, senior engineer at Embraer. "Because the induced drag coefficient is proportional to the square of the lift coefficient, a reduction in drag improves climbing capability as well, because the lift coefficient is high at this condition."Taken from:http://www.fluent.com/about/news/newsletters/01v10i1/a2.htmCraig

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Thanx so much for all the great info. You guys are great.-------------Holding Short

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I feel better! Although in this field there's so much that we dont really know...Ever saw an eagle sailing? They have those curled up tips, and, as I recall, specialized feathers/tendons/muscles to do that.

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