Airport workers brave soaring heat

Temperatures on the tarmac have reached as high as 68 degrees recently, prompting the Shanghai Airport Authority to enhance protections for its outdoor workers against heatstroke.
Shine

Filmed and edited by Yang Jian

Yang Jian / SHINE

Maintenance workers approach a landed aircraft at the Pudong International Airport, where temperatures on the tarmac can sour above 60 degrees Celsius on hot days.

Thousands of engineers, technicians and outdoor personnel are braving scorching temperatures to ensure the smooth operation of Shanghai’s two airports during the ongoing summer travel rush.

Temperatures on the tarmac have reached as high as 68 degrees Celsius recently, prompting the Shanghai Airport Authority to enhance protections for its outdoor workers against heatstroke.

One of the outdoor personnel working to protect the safety of the Pudong International Airport is Han Kai. As a senior aircraft security inspector, Han’s job is to prevent unauthorized people and vehicles from approaching planes after they land at the airport. He is also charged with inspecting the credentials of those working near aircraft.

Han oversees the security of about a dozen aircraft each day. His duties often place him in front of aircraft, where he must endure the blistering sun and heat radiating from jet engines for up to an hour at a time.

Zhang Shu

Han Kai, a senior aircraft security inspector, checks the credentials of a worker on the tarmac of the airport.

As Han watched over a landed airliner, Yin Fuqin, a cleaner with China Eastern Airlines lined up with her team members on the tarmac. After all passengers disembarked, Yin and her colleagues rushed onto the plane to clean the cabin ahead of the next flight.

“We have to finish our job within half an hour to ensure the punctuality of the next flight,” Yin said. Compared with the scorching tarmac, the cabin is stuffy and temperatures there can reach 40 degrees when the air conditioning is off, according to Yin.

Gu Shikan

Zhang Liangliang, a fuel supplier at Pudong airport, fuels a passenger plane.

Zhang Liangliang, a fuel supplier, has to refuel the plane once Yin and her colleagues finish their duties.

Hot temperatures aren’t the only job hazard for Zhang, who must wear earphones to protect his hearing from loud engines.

“I’ve become accustomed to the noise and hot exhaust from the engines after working as a fuel supplier for nearly a decade,” Zhang said.

Each day, Zhang supplies fuel to about 10 planes. It takes about 30 minutes to fuel an Airbus 320, but at least an hour and a half to top up the much larger Airbus 380 jumbo jet.

Zhang Shu

Qiao Pei, an electrical and mechanical engineer at Pudong airport checks the circuit of a boarding bridge.

After an airliner leaves the tarmac and takes off, Qiao Pei, an electrical and mechanical engineer at Pudong airport will check the circuits at the boarding bridge.

Qiao and his fellow engineers are tasked with ensuring the normal operation of Pudong airport’s 103 boarding bridges.

“As a mechanic, I like solving all kinds of glitches and feel a sense of achievement when I fix each problem,” Qiao said.

The airport authority said it will strictly control the outdoor working hours of these engineers and workers during the scorching weather. It has also renovated 49 lounges where outdoor employees can rest in terminal buildings at both Hongqiao and Pudong airports, and another 51 will get renovated this year, according to the authority.


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