Crystal Harris’s Dream Job
Ever wonder who tests the design of a new airplane? At Boeing, it's Crystal and a team of engineers and technicians. As a flight test analysis engineer, she tests engines, noise levels, landing gear, and other systems to make sure planes are safe and comfortable.
Putting out fires and other interesting job experiences
Testing an airplane is quite an adventure—and certainly not a desk job! As Crystal explains, her team evaluates a plane’s smoke detection system by “igniting a contained fire and filling the test compartment with smoke, and then waiting to see how long it takes for the detection to occur.”
She and the team also “heat soak” the plane to make sure the electrical system can withstand high temperatures. Another test they perform is racing the airplanes at high speeds on runways to check the tires and brakes.
Testing a record-breaking plane
The first plane Crystal ever tested broke the world record for the longest non-stop flight by a passenger airliner. The Boeing 777 flew non-stop for almost 23 hours, taking off in Hong Kong and landing in London—more than half way around the world!
Where she works
The Boeing Company; Seattle, Washington
B.S. in aerospace science engineering, Tuskegee University, Macon County, Alabama.
A Tuskegee pilot
Tuskegee University is famous for being the home of the Tuskegee Airman, a group of African-American pilots who were World War II heroes. Crystal received her private pilot’s license while attending Tuskegee, and learned to fly in the same plane flown by the legendary C. Alfred “Chief” Anderson, one of the original flight instructors for the Tuskegee Airmen!
Why she loves her job
“I decided to become an engineer because of my love for airplanes. I figured, since I fly them, I’d better know how they work.” Having a job that ensures the comfort and safety of airline passengers means a lot to Crystal. “The most important and rewarding part of life is giving back to others.”
Flying, volunteering in the community, and shoe shopping with her sisters.