Some aircraft wings have an additional component called a aircraft winglets , which is located at the end of each wing. Its purpose is to reduce the drag (or air resistance) the wing produces as it pushes through the air. This not only allows the airplane to fly faster, but also means it burns less fuel, allowing it to fly longer distances without refuelling.
For commercial aircraft and business jets, there is wide range of different wing tip designs. In general, the attempt is to reduce the induced drag of the vortex generated at the wing tip. However, wing tips are additional elements, and their efficiency depends on the air speed. To provide the best performance also for varying cruise speed and for different flight phases, a situation dependent shape adjustment of the winglets would be beneficial.
However, the design space for actuator systems is strongly limited at the wing tip, and any additional mass also has a strong impact on the dynamic behaviour. Morphing structures made by multifunctional material can enable advanced solutions. The benefit has already been verified by means of wind tunnel tests and patents filed by The Boeing Company.
Boeing investigated tailored wing designs in 1974 , during 1979–1981 tailored CFRP aircraft winglets (special UD-layer orientation within the laminates) and aluminium winglets (with stringer sweep) for KC-135