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Winglet FAQs

Active Winglets 101

What does “ATLAS®” stand for?

ATLAS® is the Active Technology Load Alleviation System. A winglet installed with ATLAS® is an Active Winglet.

What does TACS stand for?

TACS is short for Tamarack Active Camber Surfaces.

What is the ATLAS® Active Winglet system?

The ATLAS® Active Winglet system is comprised of a wing extension, a built ­in load alleviation device (the TACS), and an optimally sized and shaped winglet.

What is the “Active” element of ATLAS® Active Winglets?

The active surfaces on the wing extensions that look like little ailerons are called TACS. The TACS move up and down to alleviate certain loads on the wing that otherwise would be addressed by adding extra structure (weight) to the wing. Together, the TACS, extension and winglet compose the ATLAS® Active Winglet system.

What is the big difference between Active Winglets and Passive Winglets?

Passive Winglets require significant structure (weight) to reinforce the wings due to winglet-induced loads during certain flight conditions. Active Winglets are designed for maximum aerodynamic efficiency—without compromises that come with additional loads and strengthening structures. Tamarack’s Active Winglets feature innovative load-alleviating technology (ATLAS®) that “dumps the load” when conditions require. This allows for a wing extension and an optimally sized winglet. With the ATLAS® Active Winglet and wing extension, planes save 3 to 4 times more fuel than any passive winglet.

Winglet Benefits

Why do I see so many winglets on so many airliners?

Because winglets work! Fuel is the second largest expense for airlines, so they are always looking for innovative ways to reduce fuel consumption. And as people begin to think more seriously about their carbon footprint, winglets make air travel a more environmentally friendly option. Major airlines wouldn’t install them without realizing a solid ROI.

Do winglets save fuel? How much?

Yes, winglets save fuel. The exact amount saved depends on the type of aircraft, the flight mission, and whether the winglets are passive or active. A typical airliner with Passive Winglets will achieve 3 to 4 percent fuel savings. ATLAS® Active Winglets will provide 3 to 4 times the savings of passive winglets.

Do Active Winglets make planes go faster?

Yes. With the ATLAS® Active Winglets and wing extension system, a plane gets to its ceiling faster, with less drag. Also, an airplane accelerates faster and reaches higher overall speeds than an airplane without winglets at the same power setting.

Do Active Winglets help a plane’s performance?

Winglets allow a airplane to climb faster and achieve cruising altitude sooner. With increased aerodynamics, ATLAS® Active Winglets reduce fuel flow during cruise at the typical power settings. With ATLAS®, all climb gradients are improved, which provides significant increases on high/hot takeoff and landing calculations (WAT tables). Active winglets increase single engine climb performance, and reduce single engine drift-down. High altitude handling qualities are greatly enhanced. In terms of handling, most pilots report that an aircraft with winglets feels more solid in the air than one without. Additionally, there is a MZFW increase.

Do Active Winglets add value to aircraft or make it harder to sell?

According to the Aircraft Bluebook, aircraft with winglets sell before a comparable plane without winglets. Without a doubt, they give a jet an updated look — in addition to enhanced performance.

I heard that winglets only enhance performance for portions of a flight. Is this true?

Winglets provide the most benefit when the coefficient of lift is high, i.e. take offs and climbs, at efficient altitudes. Large portions of every flight can be enhanced with well-designed, right-sized winglets.

Does ATLAS® smooth the ride?

Yes. In fact, commercial airlines use a form of load alleviation to offer a smoother ride and lessen passenger air sickness from turbulence.

How Active Winglets Fly

What kind of plane is best suited for active winglets?

Any aircraft with wings! Any aircraft can be retrofitted with ATLAS® Active Winglets to increase aerodynamic efficiency.

Does ATLAS® tie into other aircraft flight control systems?

No, ATLAS® does not connect or interface with any other flight control system. Complete independence provides increased safety and versatility.

Does the pilot have to do anything to make the system work?

ATLAS® is fully autonomous. The only time the pilot needs to interact with the system is during pre-flight, with a push-to-test button.

Do the TACS move together?

Yes, they deflect symmetrically to relieve wing load when the ATLAS® senses increased loads on the wing.

Can you see the TACS move while you are flying?

Yes, if you can see the wing tip you may see the TACS move, but during a normal flight, movements are very infrequent and incredibly quick.

What if one TACS goes up while the other is down?

Thanks to our advanced engineering, this would be an extremely rare occurrence. If so, the pilot would simply react with aileron input as he or she would if there were a gust that pushed one wing up or down. The condition would be similar to having a hung slat on a jetliner.

How does the pilot know the system is working properly?

If the ATLAS® senses a fault, a red annunciator informs the pilot of the failure. If there is no red light, the system is working properly.

What if the system fails?

The pilot only needs to slow the aircraft to a defined airspeed – just as he or she would in turbulent conditions or if there were other failures, such as a hung slat.

What happens if the system loses power?

A red warning light on the control panel would turn on. This annunciator is powered separately and redundantly, so it would turn on in the event of an ATLAS® power loss. The pilot would then simply slow down.

How reliable is the ATLAS®?

The most critical failure of any system like ATLAS® would be a failure without illumination of the warning light. This type of failure of ATLAS® is calculated at less than 1 failure for every 1 billion flight hours.

“To be honest I was never a fan of winglets installed on any Citation. From my experience they just didn't seem to provide much of an advantage for the expense, but that skepticism changed one morning in September when I flew Tamarack’s 525 [with ATLAS®; Active Winglets].”

Kirby OrtegaYingling Aviation Chief Pilot