Have you ever wondered why some aircraft have a structure at the end of the wing that stick up? They may seem counterintuitive when comparing it to the lift to the force produced by a vertical wing. However, they make a lot more sense than you think. These wing structures reduce weight and drag, and increase lift and efficiency. They were created after fuel costs started skyrocketing in the 1970s and have been one of the most effective technologies to increase fuel-efficiency since.
Aircraft Wings lets are structural components added to the tip of the wing— they reduce wingtip vortices. Wingtip vortices are produced at the tip of the wing when the high-pressure air from the bottom of the wing meets the lower pressure air at the top. This air flows behind the flight path and can be detrimental to other aircraft that are following— they are strong enough to flip some aircraft.
Winglets reduce drag; they increase the aspect ratio of the wing without adding as much weight as an expansion. One benefit to having a winglet over a longer wingspan is that increasing the span lowers lift-induced drag, but increases parasitic drag. Winglets also increase lift. The magnitude and orientation of the lift force generated by the winglet are determined by the angle at which the winglets’ airfoils diverge from the relative wind direction. Generating more lift without increasing weight or drag means that winglets result in greater fuel efficiency, lower CO2 emissions, and a lower cost for airlines.
With the benefits that winglets provide, it’s difficult to understand why there are some aircraft that don’t have them. While it’s easier and safer to add a wing extension, adding a winglet can be tricky. Although aircraft can be fitted with winglets, many manufacturers are integrating winglets into the original design. This increases safety and efficiency.
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