Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Way Of Active Winglets

It’s not cheap, but it adds performance and safety to a variety of airplanes

One common problem of demonstrating such technology in Southern California is that turbulence is rarely much of a problem. On the day of our flight, however, we were fortunate to have the tail end of a front with puffy cumulus decorating the sky.

(Guida's SR22 also included a feature uncommon on Cirrus aircraft—a prop control. The Klapmeiers designed the Cirrus for single-lever control. Guida's STC returns control of the constant speed prop to the pilot.)

In-flight manners with the ATLAS unit installed are conventional, with no unusual characteristics. Roll rate, flare response and stall characteristics remain conventional, and the higher aspect ratio imparts a reduced stall speed.

Tamarack tested the system in every possible configuration, including the worst possible combinations. These included in total opposition, with one TACS fully deployed up and the other deployed down. Test pilots accomplished landings with no problem in this configuration.

In short, there's no operational downside to the ATLAS system, but there's a definite esthetic upside. Practically everyone agrees that winglets add a futuristic look to any airplane, and the Cirrus SR22 benefits from the swept tips.

The ATLAS winglets are carbon fiber and add only five inches to span, and the TACS that actually unload the outer wing are constructed of aluminum. Total weight of the system is only 24 pounds, so it's not a major factor in weight and balance. To offset the weight of the ATLAS, Guida offers a cargo conversion that converts the Cirrus rear compartment to a flat floor and allows the airplane to carry an additional 34 pounds of useful load. Price of the system uninstalled is just under $60,000.

Of course, Tamarack's primary target for their STC'd ATLAS system is corporate jets, and the company showed off the concept at last Fall's NBAA Convention in Orlando, Fla. Guida's company has developed the system for the Cessna CitationJets, installing two-foot carbonfiber sections on the outer wing, extending span by a total of four feet. Tamarack was showing off the system on a Citation 525 at the NBAA Convention.

The list of improvements possible with the new Tamarack winglets is impressive: improved fuel savings, better range, increased max zero fuel weight, better short-field performance, improved climb and high/hot performance and lighter wing loading. Tamarack plans to develop comparable ATLAS installations for use on Hawker and Embraer jets. No prices had been announced at press time.

And yes, before you ask, Nick Guida says the company is talking to a number of OEMs regarding the possibility of offering the ATLAS installation as either standard or optional equipment on new aircraft. For piston fans, guess which manufacturer is most interested?


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