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The Winglet

These are to ADVANCE what Emmental cheese is to Switzerland: the winglets. Since the founding of the enterprise in 1988 they have decorated every ADVANCE wing. It’s little wonder that today they are perceived as the ADVANCE trademark; but the winglets are there for a useful reason.

Much more than just a trademark

Opinions remain divided about the winglet: some pilots would be happy to cut them off, others regard them affectionately as ADVANCE’s little ears, and could not do without them; in fact, there’s a lot more behind the 1988 idea. Robert Graham, an ADVANCE founder and original head of development, looked for a way of reducing paraglider wingtip vortices. Their associated, so-called vortex-effect, creates a lot of drag. His solution was the winglet. As year follows year they have been constantly refined, to find the perfect shape and size. Since the SIGMA 8, for example, winglets have acquired a cambered profile. Compared with the simple symmetrical shape this can contribute something to lift. Virtually unaltered today is the winglet position near the wingtips.


The Winglet has always had its critics, so the time came for some accurate measurements.


Because pilots had always cast doubt on the advantages of winglets, and some even expressed the opinion that they increased drag as well as represented extra weight, our development department decided to put the winglets to the test and carry out some stringent research.

Simulation in the virtual wind tunnel

It was chiefly modern software that made this possible. ADVANCE was among the first paraglider manufacturers to use computerised flow analysis in their development of wings and harnesses. CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) presupposes comprehensive 3D modelling of the subject product. Performance data can then be precisely analysed and compared. With this software the engineers can now design and test their product significantly faster, without having to repeatedly build a new real-life prototype.



The results are unequivocal

New ADVANCE designer Christian Proschek evaluated the effect of the winglets for his 2013 undergraduate diploma as an aeronautics student at Graz University of Applied Science. Using the virtual wind tunnel he compared 50 separate computations on the same SIGMA 8 half wing, each with and without the winglet. Each single calculation took several hours of time on the University’s big computer.


Result of the analysis: the winglet reduced the drag by 2.85 %. This corresponds to a glide ratio improvement of 1.5 %.


The result is clear, the winglet fulfils its original intended purpose. As a trade mark its reputation is unassailable. Even its greatest critics admit it.