Aerospace composites specialist FACC (Ried im Innkreis, Austria) recently delivered the 7,500th winglet shipset to Aviation Partners. FACC delivered the first of these high-tech components to Aviation Partners, the Seattle-based inventor and marketer of the Blended Winglet, back in 2002. “The collaboration with Aviation Partners has proved very satisfying over the years,” says Robert Machtlinger, CEO of FACC. “Our expertise in the development and production of high-quality fiber-reinforced composite components and systems has enabled us to develop into a globally renowned winglet specialist. As a result, we have managed to improve the performance of the winglets continuously and save some 25 billion liters (6.6 billion gallons) of jet fuel with our innovations.”
From its factory in Ried im Innkreis, Upper Austria, FACC produces these fuel-saving winglets for its customer Aviation Partners. They are used on various types of aircraft, most notably the Boeing 737NG and 757 families, as well as on the business jets of Dassault Falcon and Beechcraft-Hawker.
The collaboration with Aviation Partners has resulted in further improvements to the aerodynamics of the winglets in the recent past. One example is the winglet with ventral fin, which has a downwards-angled strut on its underside and reduces drag on the wings by a further two to three percent.
“We believe that innovative and more intelligent materials will play an important role in future technology in the area of aircraft manufacturing,” says Machtlinger. “We also work closely with the national research promotion agency, FFG, and with international research bodies in this area.” In its research work in the Aerostructures department, FACC is focusing increasingly on so-called morphing structures, i.e. movable, sensor-controlled structures that adapt optimally to any flight position. The latest prototype featuring this technology is a winglet fitted with active control flaps that allow the shape of the wingtips to adjust to the current flight conditions in real time. “These winglets offer a range of other benefits – including even better aerodynamics, lower noise levels, and improved load distribution on the wing,” says Machtlinger.