Term of Award

Fall 2021

Degree Name

Master of Science, Mechanical Engineering

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


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Committee Chair

Dr Mosfequr Rahman

Committee Member 1

Dr Andrew Snelling

Committee Member 2

Dr Marcel Ilie

Committee Member 3

Dr Valentin Soloiu

Committee Member 3 Email



This research was performed in order to study wingtip devices and, in particular, winglets. Winglets are attached to commercial aircraft for the purpose of reducing induced drag caused by wake vortices on the wingtip. A winglet device can save an aircraft anywhere from 3-7% in fuel consumption. Over the course of a year, this can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars saved. This research consisted of two parts: one part experiment and one part equipment design. The latter phase of this research examined various methods of testing in a subsonic wind tunnel laboratory setting. Experimental results found with each subsequent set-up were examined. The former part consisted of simulation work. Ansys Fluent 2020 was employed to obtain values for pressure, drag, lift, and vortices generated. For the experimental portion, two set-ups were tested: one which consisted of an array of differential pressure sensors, and the second a force balance system employing six load cells. For this research, the force balance system was found to be the more practical of the two. Using the force balance system, two winglet geometries were then compared. One which resembled Boeing’s commonly used “Blended Winglet” and the other a New Design based on the wing tips of soaring type bird wings. With both experiment and simulation, it was found that the New Design created more lift overall. However, the simulation results showed that the “Blended Winglet” outperformed the New Design at angle of attack 11.5° by a small margin. Conversely, experimental results showed that the “Blended Winglet” outperformed only at angle of attack 2.5°. Still, lift generated and drag generated are not the only considerations in the design of a wingtip device. There are factors to take into account when winglet installation is considered such as how much weight and bending moment will be added to the wing, and how much additional cost and maintenance the winglet will require. This research attempted to evaluate different winglet designs using a holistic approach. This research also collected information on how winglet shapes affect fluid flow. More knowledge on fluid flow across a wing, and which geometry can most effectively reduce drag has the potential to create the next generation of efficiency in aircraft design.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material


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