Actual performance changes associated with the TAG active winglets will be measured during the flight test program next year. The aircraft we flew has a full complement of instrumentation, including multiple strain gauges and yarn tufts to monitor flow patterns. TAG expects to earn STC certification by late 2014 and begin delivering kits. Retail prices aren’t yet available, but company officials believe it will take 80 hours to install the system, including running 28 VDC and FBW control wires from the fuselage to the TAG active winglets.
Several issues and major challenges remain. TAG must convince FAA that failure modes won’t jeopardize the structural integrity of the wing during peak gust conditions. And FAA will likely require an extensive fatigue analysis of the wing structure to determine the impact on maintenance inspections.
Ultimately, the success of the TAG active winglet program will be as much contingent upon getting Cessna’s endorsement as it will upon earning FAA approval or improving performance. Most CJ operators and future buyers use Cessna’s factory-owned service centers for major maintenance inspections. If Cessna refuses to endorse the modification, aircraft equipped with TAG winglets could be orphaned from the Cessna family.
When AviationWeek asked a Cessna spokesman to comment about the potential impact of TAG active winglets on warranty and admittance to factory service centers, the response was “No comment.”