Press Release

NASA Talk Examines How Little Wings Make a Big Difference

By SpaceRef Editor
November 30, 2015
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They sound like a featured item on a restaurant menu, but winglets – those vertical, upturned tips at the end of an airplane’s wing – are one of aviation’s most important and visible cost-saving technologies.

On Tuesday, Dec. 1, at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, Robert Gregg, the chief aerodynamicist for Boeing Commercial Airplanes will present “The Evolution of Winglets to the Max” at 2 p.m. in the Pearl Young Theater.

Gregg will be available to answer questions from the media during a news briefing at 1:15 p.m. that day. Media who wish to do so should contact Chris Rink at 757-864-6786, or by e-mail at, by noon on the day of the talk for credentials and entry to the center.

That same evening at 7:30, Gregg will present a similar program for the general public at the Virginia Air & Space Center in downtown Hampton. This Sigma Series event is free and no reservations are required.

During the 1973 oil crisis, NASA Langley aeronautical engineer Richard Whitcomb designed and tested a vertical wingtip that he called a winglet – a device that reduces wingtip vortices and creates less drag. With less drag, an aircraft uses less fuel with fewer emissions, can carry more payload, and has a greater range. Winglets also help planes operate more quietly by reducing noise.

Aviation Partners Boeing (APB), a partnership with Seattle-based Aviation Partners Inc. and The Boeing Company has estimated that winglets have saved billions of gallons of jet fuel worldwide, saving billions of dollars and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by over 20 million tons.

Gregg’s talk will explore the history of Whitcomb’s concept, and a new advanced technology winglet and other features on Boeing’s 737 Max scheduled for its maiden flight in early 2016.

The lead for Boeing’s Flight Sciences efforts on the configuration development for the 737 MAX, 787-10X, 767-2C, and 777X, along with managing the Flight Sciences Technology portfolio, Gregg has over 37 years of experience in aircraft development, advanced aircraft and aerodynamic concepts, and technology research. He has patents on wing and airfoil design concepts for efficient transonic transports, powered high-lift concepts, and short takeoff and landing configurations. Gregg received a Bachelor of Science in aeronautics and astronautics from the University of Illinois and a Master of Science in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California.

For more information about NASA Langley’s Colloquium and Sigma Series Lectures, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.