Design Approach

Our goal is to research the effects and viability of winglets to be used on the rear stabilizer of a commercial airliner. We will have three different stages to determine whether winglets are worthwhile to install on the rear spoilers of planes. We will be using the Boeing 737-800, Boeing 777-300ER, Boeing 787-800, Airbus A320 and Airbus A380-800. These are the most common and widely used aircraft on the market right now.

In our first stage, we will be modelling various to scale commercial airliner models using Solidworks, a Computer Animated Design (CAD) software. In our initial stages, we will be using the Finite Element Analysis (FEA) flow visualization aspect of the software to gain an understanding on whether our winglet geometry is accomplishing our goal of reducing the amount of induced drag in the rear spoiler.

To optimize the coefficient of drag, we will have several iterations and flow visualizations of our various airliners and winglet orientations. The more we do on the computer will save us costs in material and show whether stage two is viable in pursuing.

For stage two, we will rapid prototype our CAD models to a suitable scale using a 3D printer. Once our prototypes are ready, we will use a subsonic wind tunnel to measure how much induced drag each of our models has before and after winglets are added to the rear stabilizer. We will use the new modern standards for each aircraft type when it comes to modern day winglets. For Boeing 737’s, we will use Next Generation Split Scimitar winglets, Boeing 777’s will have no winglets and the Airbus A320/A380 will have their respective sharklets.

From the wind tunnel test, we will obtain side profile visualizations of the fluid flow around the airplane model. We can then draw from our observations through statistical evaluation of the fluid flow to determine whether or not the winglets are effective in our goal of reducing drag on airliners.

The next application would be applying our findings to full sized airline wings and aircraft for true wind tunnel testing, provided our results on a scale basis warrant our desired result.


Role of the Researcher

The researcher will lead the process in modelling, flow visualizations in CAD software, then continuing and taking the CAD files to 3D form on the 3D printer. Beyond that, it will be experimental testing and eventually evaluation of the data. After evaluation, the researcher will conclude whether further stages of the experiment are worth pursuing.