Just when you've become used to seeing upturned blended wingtips on many commercial jets, Alaska Airlines is moving on to the next generation of the fuel-saving wingtips.
The airlines said it plans to install so-called "split scimitar wingtips" on most of its fleet of 130 Boeing 737s beginning next year. The new wingtips are made by Seattle's Aviation Partners, the company that developed the existing upward turning blended wingtips.
The split scimitar wingtips will modify the top of the existing wingtips and add a downward slanting wingtip to the end of the wing. The resulting wingtip will resemble a V-shape with upward and downward slanting elements.
The new wingtips are expected to save 58,000 gallons of fuel per aircraft per year and save the airline about $20 million annually. That fuel savings is enough to power nearly 12,000 automobiles for a year, the airline said.
The modified split wingtips will resemble the split wingtips that Boeing plans to add to its newest version of the 737, the 737 Max. The first Max will enter commercial service in 2017.
Alaska was one of the first airlines to install the blended upward turning wingtips several years ago. It will be among the first airlines to add the split wingtips to its fleet.
United Airlines earlier this year announced it would modify some of its planes with the split wingtips.
Alaska said that fuel savings are expected to pay the cost of the modification within two years.
The modifications will take place during regularly scheduled maintenance for the planes.