Snakes on a plane: Qantas A380 engineers dodge rattlesnakes in the Mojave Desert. Video / Qantas

Qantas engineers must avoid rattlesnakes when servicing the airline’s Airbus A380s parked in the Mojave Desert.

The airline says Los Angeles-based staff have added a new pre-inspection procedure to avoid the wrath of the rattles when they perform weekly maintenance on the double floors.

Engineers are responsible for maintaining the A380s which are currently parked in deep storage, with the fleet expected to return to service when demand for international travel returns to pre-Covid levels. It could still be in two years.

Engineers know how to protect the plane from birds and insects nesting in crevices in the fuselage in Victorville, Calif., But snakes pose a new danger.

The desert-based airfield is temporarily home to planes from around the world, with airlines around the world stocking their jets. Air New Zealand has stored five Boeing 777s there.

In his Tales of Roo, Qantas says that while the dry heat and low humidity of the California desert makes it the ideal storage facility for airplanes, it is also the ideal environment for highly poisonous rattlesnakes and Mojave scorpions, both prone to camping around the wells and tires wheel of hibernating planes.

Qantas Los Angeles Engineering Manager Tim Heywood said having a team of engineers driving the two-hour journey from LA to Victorville for regular inspections was a critical part of keeping the plane in top condition for their downtime.

“The area is well known for its fiery rattles that like to curl up around hot rubber tires and in the plane’s wheels and brakes. Each plane has its own ‘Whacker’ (a reused broomstick) as part of the frame. of the engineering kit., with the registration of each aircraft written on it. ”

The first thing engineers do before unpacking the wheels and starting ground inspections of the landing gear in particular is to walk around the aircraft, stomping and tapping the wheels with a Whacker to wake up and scare off snakes.

“It’s about making sure that no harm is done to our engineers or to the snakes,” he said.

A Qantas A380 undergoes undercarriage rotation tests in Los Angeles.  Photo / Supplied
A Qantas A380 undergoes undercarriage rotation tests in Los Angeles. Photo / Supplied

The engineers had encountered a few rattlesnakes and also a few scorpions, but the Whacker wheel does its job and they run away.

“It’s a unique part of looking after these planes while they’re in storage and it’s another sign of how strange the past year is. These A380s rarely spent more than a day on the ground when in service. “

Engineers cover the interior seats with plastic sheeting to apply a protective film to the top of the rudder and to all cabin windows. The wheels, tires and landing gear dropouts are wrapped in protective film and all inlets and holes in the fuselage are plugged to prevent insects, birds and even bats from settling in. them.

During deep storage, engineers perform weekly, bi-monthly and monthly inspections that include draining fuel tanks of water caused by condensation, rotating wheels to avoid flats, checking tire pressure, inspect the fuselage and wings for animal nests and make sure they are still well packed.

One of the A380s woke up and took off for the first time in 290 days this week, flying from Victorville to Los Angeles to undergo a gear change procedure at Qantas’ LAX hangar.

The 290-ton aircraft was lifted and its landing gear tilted up and down.

“Planes like these are very technical and you can’t just land them at the storage facility, park them and go. It’s really important that even when stored deep, planes are maintained to the Qantas standard, ”Heywood said.

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This notice was published: 2021-06-03 03:25:12


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