You are on page 1of 4

Fuselage - ATA53

Fuselage
e

Search this website:

Search

AFT BODY VORTEX GENERATORS


There are four vortex generators on each side of the rear fuselage above the
horizontal stabiliser. The 737-1/200s also had three vortex generators below
each stabiliser. They were probably installed to energise the airflow at the
stagnation point at the tailcone, thereby reducing drag and giving a slight
performance advantage.
Classics were initially produced without any aft body vortex generators (see
photo. However the upper vortex generators were reinstated after line number
2277 (May 1992 onwards). This was to reduce elevator and elevator tab
vibration during flight to increase their hinge bearing service life.
The CDL says that if any of these vortex generators are not fitted or missing
occasional vertical motions may be felt which appear to be light turbulence
These motions are characteristic of this airplane and should not be construed to
be associated with Mach buffet.

http://www.b737.org.uk/fuselage.htm[1/1/2016 9:54:51 PM]

Fuselage - ATA53

RADOME
The radome (RAdar DOME) is an aerodynamic faring that houses the weather radar and ILS localiser
and glideslope antennas. Unlike the rest of the fuselage it is made of fibreglass to allow the RF signals
through.

Fibreglass is non-conductive which would allow the build up of P-static (static due to the motion of the
aircraft through precipitation). This would in turn cause static interference on the antenna within so the

radome is fitted with six conductive diverter strips on the outside to dissipate P-static into the airframe.

LAP JOINTS

http://www.b737.org.uk/fuselage.htm[1/1/2016 9:54:51 PM]

Fuselage - ATA53

After the Aloha 737-200 accident, in which a 12ft x 8ft section of the upper fuselage tore away in flight, all 737's with over 50,000 cycles must have their lap
joints reinforced with external doublers. This tired old aircraft is a 737-200 and the patching is clearly visable. This modification takes about 15,000 man hours
and unfortunately has sometimes been the source of another problem - scoring. This is when metal instruments instead of wooden ones have been used to
scrape away excess sealant or old paint from the lap joints which create deep scratches which may themselves develop into cracks.
5 May 2004 - Defects In Aging Passenger Jets Exposed
SEATTLE -- KIRO Team 7 Investigators discover cracks, corrosion and weakened metal hidden inside a growing number of Boeing passenger

jets.
The problems lie along structural seams called lap joints. A fuselage is designed with overlapping sheets of metal riveted together. We uncovered
at least 28 different warnings regarding flaws or defects. In 2002, a China Airlines jet plummeted into the water, killing 225 passengers. Fourteen
years earlier, an Aloha Airlines 737 opened up like a sardine can, killing one person and injuring eight more.
KIRO 7 Eyewitness News Investigative Reporter Chris Halsne discovers a big new problem for Boeing, centered on "lap-joint metal fatigue". The
problem is called "scoring". During assembly, workers lay a bead of sealant along this lap joint. It makes the jet more aerodynamic. A year or two
flying you around and many jets have to get repainted. Powerful chemical strippers melt the sealant, so some maintenance crews have been
putting on caulk then, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, have been cutting away the excess with a box cutter. That can ruin the
integrity of the metal along the entire aircraft lap joint. The FAA recently grounded three passenger jets due to "scribe marks" and has identified
32 more Boeing planes with damaging box cutter-type cuts along the lap joint. "When we found this, we jumped on it right away," said FAA
spokesperson Mike Fergus. Fergus says they have no idea yet how many more jets are affected by scoring. "With the contraction and expansion
of thousands of flight hours, the scratch has the potential, not a guarantee, the potential of turning into a crack. That in turn may have safety
factor. That's our issue. If it's safety, we're interested," Fergus said.
Scoring of some lap joints is just the latest chapter in Boeing's long battle with the design and maintenance of its riveted seams. "With that type of
structure, whatever is occurring between the two sheets is not readily visible," said Earl Brown, a certified jet engine and airframe mechanic.
Brown says the FAA has been warning airlines to inspect -- and re-inspect often -- the lap joints of thousands of still-operating older model Boeing
jets. "If we can catch a problem when it's still just a crack and fix it, then we don't have to worry about something coming apart, breaking. The
potential for breaking is there if a crack develops. It's pretty much inherent in the design of the airplane and the materials used," Brown said. The
scoring issue has been kept quiet until now, but other huge maintenance nightmares include hundreds of previously "patched" or repaired planes.
An Airworthiness Directive says new inspections are necessary to find "premature cracking of certain lap joints, which could result in rapid
decompression." Spotting fatigue in the lap joints on the outside of an aircraft, through the paint, is nearly impossible. So here's what the airlines
have to do: They have to bring the jet into a hanger and gut the interior. That can cost more than $1 million.
The super-high cost of that "D-check" inspection is hardly an incentive for airlines to look really hard for trouble spots. For example, KIRO Team 7

http://www.b737.org.uk/fuselage.htm[1/1/2016 9:54:51 PM]

Fuselage - ATA53

Investigators uncovered an Aviation Safety Report filed by a mechanic last year. He reported his company ignored a potentially deadly safety
problem saying, "A B737-200 had water leaking on passengers and inspectors found all fuselage lap joints leaking excessively." Despite that, the
mechanic says the supervisor "told me to get off the ACFT and not to check any laps. This ACFT had to go."
Independent aviation robotics engineer Henry Seemann doesn't look at a Boeing 737 like the rest of us. We view them as a whole. He sees them
in tiny parts, up close, one rivet at a time. And what he sees should make all of us a little nervous: cascading metal cracks, loose shear clips,
corroded lap joints and tiny cuts in the metal. Halsne: "Are there times when you walk up to a plane and think, 'I don't know about this one?'"
Seemann: "Yes, I've had my moments of certain airplanes when I've looked at them and actually booked a different flight." Seemann invented a
machine, currently used by Boeing itself, that automatically inspects lap joints. The robot could save the industry billions in early maintenance
because it takes just a few days to computer map and analyze lap joint flaws. Current methods take a month.
Despite the potential cost savings some airlines are telling Henry don't get that thing near our passenger jets. "There's a requirement that if you
know something is wrong with your airplane, you're supposed to fix it. It's a moral thing," Seemann said. "Some are afraid of that -- that their fleet
is kind of old and we're going to inspect their planes and we're going to put a big red "x" on them." The Federal Aviation Administration confirms
this robot design is in the final stages of approval. It could revolutionize the way we spot catastrophic metal failures - before a serious accident.
Boeing refused our repeated requests for an on-camera interview about "scoring" and other lap joint issues, but did provide us with some

background on how it's working hard to fix the problems. We called Boeing again this week for a statement. While they still won't comment on
past metal fatigue issues, they did say design improvements on their new line of 7E7's should take care of future problems.

http://www.kirotv.com/news/3273758/detail.html
EYEBROW WINDOWS
On the 3rd Feb 2005, 737-700, N201LV, L/N 1650, was the first ever 737 to
fly without eyebrow windows (window numbers 4 & 5). They have been
standard in Boeing aircraft back as far as WW2 bombers to give better crew
visibility. Now they have been declared obsolete and removed from
production. The design change reduces airplane weight by 20 pounds and
eliminates approximately 300 hours of periodic inspections per airplane.
Retrofit kits to cover eyebrow windows will be available mid-2006 for the inservice 737 fleet.
Note the windows will still be available as a customer option and all military
versions will continue to be delivered with eyebrow windows.
Notice the 10 small vortex generators above the radome. These reduce the
cockpit noise from the windshield by 3dB.

This site has had

http://www.b737.org.uk/fuselage.htm[1/1/2016 9:54:51 PM]

visitors to date.