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Winglets cut emissions, fuel use for Hawaiian Air


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POSTED: Thursday, November 05, 2009

Hawaiian Airlines is spreading its wings—literally.

The state's largest and oldest carrier said yesterday it has completed its first installation of blended winglets on its Boeing 767-300 jets as a “;green”; initiative that will significantly reduce the fuel usage and carbon dioxide emissions of its aircraft.

When affixed upward to the end of each wing, the 11-foot extensions, or winglets, will improve the efficiency of the 767s' wings by smoothing out airflow across the upper wing near the tip.

As a result, aerodynamic drag will be reduced, cutting down on the thrust needed to fly the same speed. The reduced thrust will lower fuel use and result in savings of between 700 and 800 gallons of fuel for every round trip between Hawaii and the West Coast. That translates into an estimated 2 million gallons of fuel per year.

“;Installing winglets on these aircraft makes them among the most efficient, environmentally friendly aircraft in the world fleet,”; Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian's president and chief executive officer, said yesterday.

“;Being a leader in winglet technology for 767 aircraft means we'll be among the greenest operators of this aircraft, and the first to benefit with lower fuel expense and greater payload.”;

The company incurred $68.4 million in fuel costs in the third quarter and $173.3 million through the first nine months of this year, according to its most recent financial report.

Hawaiian, which expects to have winglets mounted on eight of its 767s by next summer, said it is one of the first airlines in the world to install winglet technology on Boeing 767 aircraft following recent certification of the modification by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Dunkerley said that at today's fuel prices, the company expects to save $3 million to $4 million a year when all eight aircraft are equipped with the winglets.

The process of equipping a plane with a pair of winglets, which cost about $2 million per pair, takes about a month because the wing skin has to be lifted so that the winglets can be attached to the actual wing structure, Dunkerley said.

He said the company will be installing the winglets on one aircraft per month for eight straight months due to the length of installation time. Dunkerley said it wasn't financially feasible to refit the company's entire fleet of 18 Boeing 767s because some of the aircraft are near the end of their lease and other aircraft are due to be retired soon.

In addition to the fuel savings, Hawaiian said the new technology will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2,250 tons per aircraft per year, or an estimated 18,000 tons annually once all eight aircraft are fitted.

Wings fitted with winglets also produce more aerodynamic lift, which will allow Hawaiian's 767s to carry 10,000 to 15,000 additional pounds in payload on certain weight-restricted flights, which translates into greater cargo-carrying capacity.

Other benefits of the winglets include increasing the operating range of each aircraft, reducing engine maintenance costs and improving takeoff capabilities.

Hawaiian's new fleet of Airbus A330 aircraft, which begin arriving in April, will be fitted with winglets as factory-installed equipment. He said the company will continue using some 767s for the next 10 years. Hawaiian also will begin phasing in Airbus A350s in 2017.