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What is a winglet?

What is a winglet?

Vliegsimulator.nl Blog

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You never used to see it, but nowadays every aircraft has a kink at the end of its wings. What is it for?

Winglet

The kink is there for a reason and has a name. This is a winglet. The winglet improves the performance of the aircraft, or rather, the wings. It allows you to fly more economically.

Carrying capacity

How it works exactly is a rather technical story. An aeroplane builds up lift with its wings, read more about this in our theory booklet. The air pressure at the top of the wings is lower than at the bottom. This way, the aeroplane is as it were sucked into the air and hangs on its wings. Pilots therefore sometimes say: "we are going to hang for a while".

Leaky hoover hose

Have you ever tried to clean the floor with a leaking hoover hose? That doesn't work at all of course, because false air is sucked in through the hole in the hose. You lose suction power.

The same happens with wings without winglets. Air flows from an area with high pressure to an area with lower pressure. So air is sucked from the bottom of the wing to the top. This does not provide any lift:

In green (with the minuses) you see the area where the air pressure is relatively lower. And in red (with the pluses) where the air pressure is somewhat higher. These areas run into each other.

The winglet

By making the end of the wing (almost) vertical, aeronautical engineers ensure that air cannot be sucked from the bottom to the top of the wing so easily:

As a result, less lift is lost. And that in turn means that an aeroplane gets more lift out of every litre of fuel it burns. In short, you get further on a full tank.

The result? You can save up to 4% in fuel consumption!

Is that all?

Not quite, the winglet also reduces the turbulence behind the aircraft. This makes it safer for traffic coming up behind.

More information about our flying lessons, parachuting, flight simulations and fear of flying courses:

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Do you want to know more about flying?

Then download our theory book "How an aeroplane flies" completely free of charge. This booklet describes in an accessible way the background of a first flying lesson. So that before or after your lesson you can read back what happened around you. You will read about, among other things:

  • How lift is created and thus how an aeroplane can fly
  • How to make a turn with an aeroplane
  • What the traffic rules on the ground and in the air are
  • And what all the buttons and gauges in the cockpit mean

You can also order the book as a real book on Bol.com or give it as a present with a flying lesson.

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About Eveline van den Boom

The author of this article is Eveline van den Boom. In 2006, she received her first flying lesson as a birthday present; a beautiful flight over Rotterdam. That tasted like more!

In 2010, she got her PPL licence in Lelystad. In 2011, an aircraft was purchased: an Aero AT-3. This aircraft is still flying in the Vliegles.nl fleet with callsign PH-EVB.

She wrote the theory books "Theory of Flying" and "Theory helicopter flying". These can be ordered with your flying lesson and are also separately for sale on Bol.com

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