At-Home Flight Simulator: Air traffic controller and private pilot James Price has spent 12 years of free time converting the nose of a Boeing 737 into a full-on flight simulator in his California garage. Price did all of the simulator’s programming himself, and about 90 percent of the gauges and displays in the cockpit actually function. Price is one of only several in the U.S. to own and operate such a device.
A Boeing engineer said Tuesday that the company had projected a longer lifespan for the skin and the supporting joints of its older 737 jetliners and was surprised that serious cracks developed on one Southwest Airlines plane last Friday.
Paul Richter, a chief engineer for the older Boeing 737 models, said the plane maker had expected the parts to last 60,000 cycles of takeoffs and landings before cracks might form, while the jet that developed the hole on Friday had only 39,000 cycles. Southwest had done nothing wrong in maintaining the plane, Mr. Richter said.
He said Boeing had felt so confident about the joints that it did not even require airlines to inspect that part of the plane until it reached 60,000 cycles.