Introduction and Lexicon


Airfoil- a wing used to provide lift and eventually flight for an aircraft.

Aspect Ratio- ratio between the span and chord of a wing.

Chord- the depth of a wing.

Coefficient of Drag a calculated quantity which accounts for the amount of drag and airfoil has.

Coefficient of Lift- a calculated quantity which accounts for the amount of lift an airfoil has.

FEA- Finite Element Analysis

Lifting Wing- the wing in the system that provides the lifting force of an airplane.

Rear Stabilizer- the wing located at the rear of the plane.

Span- the length of a wing.

Vortex- the drag effect created at the end of the wing which results in an increase in fuel consumption

Winglets- a flaring up at the tip of a wing designed to reduce the drag induced by a wing tip



Commercial airliners are the modern form of transportation. Our goal is to make air travel as efficient as possible to both save companies in an economical sense, or fuel consumption, and to also reduce our environmental impact of air travel through carbon emissions. To do this, we are experimenting with the implementation of winglets, or flared up wing tips, for the rear stabilizer. Today’s modern aircraft utilize winglets for the tips of the lifting wing, but not on rear stabilizers. We will study whether it is a viable addition to modern aircraft in an effort to reduce the coefficient of drag on airliners, resulting in increased fuel efficiency.

We will be utilizing the Boeing 737-800, Boeing 777-300ER, Boeing 787-800, Airbus A320 and Airbus A380-800 to compare the addition of rear stabilizer winglets. We chose this selection of airliners because they are either the most common in their division, or, because they are just entering service as new aircraft types, meaning their service life from today could be upwards of 30 years. To develope our study, we will need to evaluate several different types of winglets, such as vertically flared, split scimitar and continuously flared amongst other geometries that we may discover along our research which is specific to the rear stabilizer.

We hypothesis that the addition of rear stabilizer winglets will slightly increase the fuel efficiency of modern day aircraft. The rear stabilizer is not a lifting surface, meaning that it does not provide lift to the plane, merely stabilization. Lifting surfaces provide the most drag in a system due to the increased forces of lift on the airline wing. Because of this, we hypothesis that the winglets will have positive effects, but they will not have as drastic changes to the efficiency of an airliner as a traditional winglet (7-10%). We do believe that the change in efficiency will be on the range of 1-2%.

To evaluate these effects, we will utilize modern day 3D printing and flow visualization software initially, then rapid prototyping the designs which pass our flow visualization evaluations. From here, we will test them in a wind tunnel to gather data on the efficiencies of adding winglets to the rear spoiler.



Figure 1-1: Example of using Solidworks Flow Simulation on a winglet end tip.