United Airlines tests new fuel saving wingtips

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United Airlines took another step forward in the quest for increased fuel efficiency today, when a 737-800 fitted with a new type of winglet flew its first flight in Everett, Wash.

Instead of merely having a wingtip pointed upwards, as on much of the carrier’s Boeing fleet, the new wingtips have two elements – one points up and the other, which is considerably smaller, points down.

United officials say the new winglet results in significantly less drag than the current model used by the airline on its 737 fleet. They say the winglet – called the Split Scimitar – will result in a roughly 2 percent fuel savings the 737s.

Eventually, when United puts the new technology on its 737, 757 and 767 fleet, the airline expects to save $200 million annually in fuel. Currently, some of those planes have traditional winglets, while some have none at all.

There’s a bit of a competition going between Boeing and Airbus over who can develop more efficient wings. Airbus, which has historically had relatively small wingtip devices on its planes, has started helping airlines retrofit their A320 family aircraft with 2.5 meter high “sharklets.” Airbus says their sharklets, pictured below, reduce fuel consumption by about 4 percent on the longest flights.

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Delta to fly from LAX to Belize City

Further building its route network from Los Angeles International Airport, Delta Air Lines will debut Saturday-only service to Belize City starting in December.

The flight will be on a 160-seat 737-800 aircraft. It will leave Los Angeles at 12:20 a.m. and arrive at 7 a.m. The return flight will leave Belize City at 10:30 a.m. and arrive at LAX at 1:50 p.m.

Airlines tend to have some spare planes on weekends, when they tend to fly fewer flights to business destinations. That often allows them to play around with unusual routes, like this one.

Delta will be the only airline to serve Belize City from Los Angeles. The airline also flies from Atlanta to Belize City.

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