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Active Winglets, The Shape Of Things To Come

Winglets Work

The initial concept dates back to 1897, when English engineer Frederick Lanchester patented wing end-plates as a method for controlling wingtip vortices.

In 1910, Scottish-born engineer, William Somerville received a US patent for the first functional winglets installed on his biplane and monoplane designs.

In the 1970s NASA engineer Richard Whitcomb, revolutionized wing design with his refinement of the winglet and the ‘split’ winglet .

A 1910, William Somerville biplane design with winglets.

 The original design for a set of (split) winglets designed by Richard Whitcomb and his team at NASA (circa 1976).


The efficiencies achieved with winglets comes from more evenly distributing the aerodynamic loading on the wing to reduce drag. But this always introduces more bending load in the wing. Passive Winglets are a compromise, between efficiencies (fuel savings) and additional structure (weight). In other words, the greater the benefit provided by the winglet design, the more wing load is increased, and the more compromises need be made—additional structure and weight, less efficient winglet design, etc.
- That is, until now.


Peak Efficiency Without Compromise

Winglets must be designed to ensure that the wing can carry the worst-case flight loads. For example,commercial airliners have winglets that have been de-tuned (or compromised) from an efficiency standpoint in order to reduce the amount of structural reinforcement required to carry the worst case flight loads.  

Active Winglet Benefits

  • Fuel efficiencies greater than traditional winglets
  • Better high/hot performance
  • Increase WAT table numbers
  • Increase in MZFW
  • Lower operating costs
  • Much shorter install time
  • 1st and 2nd segment performance increase
  • Extend the fatigue life of your wings
  • ATLAS® Load Alleviation
  • “Bolt on” installation

The purpose of ATLAS® is to actively reduce the bending load in the wing during conditions that produce worst-case flight loads. This means a Tamarack® winglet can be designed for peak efficiency without compromising for structural considerations.

A winglet installed with ATLAS® technology is an Active Winglet. Active winglets are designed for maximum aerodynamic efficiency—without compromises.

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.

“Anyone using Tamarack® technology will receive its substantial performance, economic and safety benefits on every single flight for the life of the airplane. I am not aware of any technology this good in all of aviation past or present.”

Scott EricksonCFII, MEI, ATP