Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Khuất Quang Huy, head of the maintenance and repairing team for Airbus A350 and A330 under the Việt Nam Airlines Engineering Company (VAECO), started his work day at 6:40 am as usual.
When the Airbus A350 arrived at the parking lot in Hà Nội’s Nội Bài International Aiport to be checked before its next flight, Huy and his three teammates were ready.
They quickly entered the airplane and checked the engine, wings and tires of the plane, which would take off for Japan at 8:35 am on that day, the Tuổi trẻ (Youth) newspaper reported.
“When we received the airplane, the pilot told us that he thought there was trouble in the engine’s air brake and we need to fix it,” Huy said.
Huy’s team had a maximum of 90 minutes to fix the trouble before the next flight, he added.
“We’re often under intense pressure to ensure the next flight can take off as scheduled,” he said.
If they didn’t finish work fast enough, the flight could be delayed or cancelled. Other units had to wait for them before refueling or taking food and drinks onto the plane.
“Our job demanded us to work quickly but still ensure the highest safety for the plane’s passengers on the next flight,” he said.
In addition to Huy, there are about 800 aviation engineers working for VAECO, who stand behind each safe flight.
Trần Tuấn Quang, who is in charge of maintaining airplane’s interior, said his team not only maintained the interior of Vietnam Airlines’ airplanes but also other carriers’ aircrafts that landed at the airport.
An estimated 400 airplanes take off and land daily there. The number can reach 600 during holidays.
Normally, Quang’s team serves about 50 arrivals per day. It can be up to 80 arrivals during holidays, he said.
“We seem to have no break time during the holidays because of the additional flights,” he said.
Quang said he had experienced several “heart-breaking” situations during his 11 years on the job.
About one year ago, his team checked the Airbus A350-900 of the Vietnam Airlines before the flight to Paris. They found that the entertainment system of the plane did not work. They were extremely worried for two reasons, he said.
First, it was just after the airlines had been recognized as a four-star carrier. Second, it was a new type of airplane and it was the first time the team had worked on that model’s entertainment system.
It took the team about two hours to fix the situation, he said.
“We’ve finished just in time for the passengers to board the airplane,” he added.
Hoàng Trọng Tường, an engineer whose job is to maintain airplanes periodically, said that sometimes he and his teammates had to work from 6 am until 10 pm to finish the maintenance as scheduled.
Not only under time pressure, aviation engineers also face health risks. During the peak of the summer, the surface of the runaway can reach 70-80 degrees Celsius. The engineers must wear hats and protective clothes as well as apply sun cream.
Huy said that each time an airplane took off or landed, there was a lot of dust and toxic smells discharged from the airplanes’ engines, brakes and tyres. But he and his teammates could hardly wear masks because they had to smell.
“Sometimes we think we see water but it’s not, it might be oil,” he said.
Therefore, the team could not wear masks because they had to smell and discover whether it was oil leaking from an airplane. If it was an oil leak, the team has to fix it immediately.
Noise was also a problem, he added.
“We had to suffer noise from airplanes’ taking off and landing every day and sometimes we feel like we are temporarily deaf,” he said.
In the winter, the engineers have to work in the cold outside. Working at 6am, or even as early as 2 or 3am if there are additional flights during Tết (Lunar New Year) or other holidays, in northern winter’s cold is totally unpleasant.
“We feel the chill to the bone,” he said.
Huy spent three consecutive years celebrating Lunar New Year’s Eve at the airport’s parking lot.
“The first time I celebrated Lunar New Year’s Eve here was in 2015,” he said.
When he finished his work, looking to the other side of the runaway, he saw a beautiful firework and knew that the moment of the Lunar New Year’s Eve had just passed.
“I hurriedly called my wife to say sorry because I could not enjoy the moment with her,” he said.
"We’d just been married for a couple of months," he said.
Quang, of the airplane’s interior maintenance team said, he was often on duty in the Lunar New Year’s Eve. At first, he did not like it. But he gradually got used to it.
The moment passengers get on their planes during his Lunar New Year’s Eve shift was very emotional, he said.
He felt like he did a small good thing so that other people could return to their home for a family reunion before the New Year comes.
“It’s a wonderful feeling,” he added.—VNS