In lieu of the continued grounding of its 14 Boeing 737 MAx 8s and 9s, following the two lethal crashes that occurred in previous months, flydubai could have found a way to cut costs in the long run. The low-cost airline is introducing Split Scimitar Winglets on its Next-Generation Boeing 737-800 Fleet, which will help improve fuel efficiency and deliver both financial and environmental benefits.
The programme is expected to provide a return on investment in under three years.
“Whilst flydubai’s 737 MAX fleet remains grounded, the decision to install split Scimitar singles to its existing 737-800 fleet will help the airline reduce its fuel bill and carbon emissions,” Saj Ahmad, Chief Analyst at StrategicAero Research, commented on the occasion.
By reducing the drag created at the end of the wingtip and distributing the lift of the aircraft more evenly across the whole wing, the Split Scimitar Winglets reduce fuel consumption for flydubai by 1.5%. The winglets are estimated to reduce flydubai’s annual fuel bill by over 200,000 litres per aircraft and reduce CO2 emissions by more than 510 tonnes per aircraft per year.
The retrofit programme will see up to 30 Next-Generation Boeing 737-800 aircraft fitted with the new Split Scimitar Winglets between September 2019 and October 2020, the airline explained. The introduction of the winglets makes flydubai the first airline to do so in the Middle East.
“A slew of 737 operators already use Scimitar winglets, such as United Airlines and Alaska Airlines – and in being the first to install them on its fleet in the GCC will further augment flydubai’s cost reduction efforts as the airline gears up to re-integrating the 737 MAX fleet back into service within a matter of months,” Ahmad explained.
The retrofit programme is scheduled to coincide with the aircraft’s scheduled base maintenance checks. By installing the winglets during the periods of scheduled maintenance, the airline minimises the effect on aircraft availability and any disruption to its flying schedule.
When retrofitting an aircraft, the current Blended Winglets on the Next-Generation Boeing 737-800 aircraft are removed and a new aerodynamically shaped “Scimitar” winglet tip caps and a ventral strake are installed. The process takes up to four days per aircraft and the airline expects the programme to provide a return on investment in under three years.