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United Airlines Is First To Install Split Scimitar Winglets

Stocks in this article: UAL

CHICAGO, July 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- A United Airlines Boeing 737-800 aircraft retrofitted with the new Split Scimitar Winglet took its maiden test flight Tuesday in Everett, Wash. This advanced winglet improves on the existing blended winglets United currently has on its next generation 737 fleet.

In January, United served as the launch customer for this innovative winglet when it made a firm commitment with Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) to retrofit its 737-800 fleet. In June, United announced its commitment to also retrofit its 737-900ER fleet. Using a newly patented design, the program consists of retrofitting United's Boeing Next Generation 737 Blended Winglets by replacing the aluminum winglet tip cap with a new aerodynamically shaped "Scimitar" winglet tip cap and by adding a new Scimitar-tipped ventral strake.

"We are always looking for opportunities to reduce fuel expense by improving the efficiency of our fleet. The Next-Generation 737 Split Scimitar Winglet will provide a natural hedge against rising fuel prices while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions," said United's Vice President of Fleet Ron Baur. "We appreciate APB's focus in helping United become even more fuel efficient."

This new winglet design demonstrates significant aircraft drag reduction over the basic blended winglet configuration United uses on its current fleet. United expects the new Split Scimitar winglet to result in approximately a two percent fuel savings for the 737. Once the Split Scimitar Winglets are installed, the combined winglet technology installed on United's 737, 757, and 767 fleet is expected to save the airline more than $200 million per year in jet fuel costs.

United will begin retrofitting its 737-800 and 737-900ER fleet with the new winglet beginning early next year, once testing and FAA certification of the winglets are complete.

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