These are all airport jobs you probably DO know of. The first ones that come to mind. But what goes on behind the scenes to get you from point A to point B, I'm sure you rarely think of. So as a salute to those who work hard day and night to make sure the planes are clean, safe, and ready to take us all across the world, here's to them.
Every major airport has a person who drives around in a truck with the word "BIRDMAN" painted across the side of the vehicle. Their sole job is to scare away birds. Yes, to scare away birds. With flares or with horns, however he does it, the birds have got to go.
It seems a bit ridiculous, but it's actually a very important job. Airports are big on safety and security and The Birdman is all about that.
Birds that are found on or around runways pose a potential safety threat. Flying into the engines of the planes is a bad ending for all involved...
2. Water Guy
The water that you use to wash your hands or to flush the toilet while you're crammed in the itty bitty airplane bathrooms doesn't just magically refill itself. The Water Guy's job is to fill up the water on the plane with The Water Truck.
The Water Truck is a cab with a big metal box for a tank and a little standing mechanical lift. The Water Guy lifts himself up to plane level, hooks up The Water Truck's hose to the plane, holds down a couple o' buttons, and voila! Water's filled.
3. Lav Man
Their job is to empty the planes' lavatories. They do this using The Lav Truck (it seems as though each job has its own designated truck), a body suit, a face mask, and some common sense to stand downwind, because yes, spillage does happen.
That blue liquid that you see when you flush the toilet is also filled up by the Lav Guys. This blue liquid ensures that everything comes out liquid-y when it's time to empty the lavatories, because I'm sure nothing is worse than to have to unclog the drainage tube.
A clear tube is securely hooked up to the lav port of the plane, which needs to be maneuvered to help flow. The Lav Guy will raise, by hand, the parts of the tube that are drooping to help the liquid flow properly into The Lav Truck. Sometimes the lav port freezes (you know, we are in Canada after all), which is fixed by bringing over a heater to warm up the solid waste. Basically, they're heating up poop. I don't know about you, but that's certainly not a job for me. Hats off to these guys!
4. Pillow Replacer
They replace the pillows.
For every pillow that comes off the plane, the pillow case is removed and replaced with a new one. They are then either thrown out or washed. The end.
5. Arctic Man
This is an overnight shift position during the winter. Planes that are parked overnight during the winter must be hooked up to a heater and a power unit. It's The Arctic Man's job to check the heaters and power units to make sure they're full with gas and working smoothly.
A secondary part of this job is to check the gas on all the vehicles the airport employees use on around the tarmac.
Any build up of ice on a plane can be very dangerous, especially on the wings and tail. A plane's wings and tail are specifically designed to be a certain shape to help with lift and flight. Any build up of ice on these parts of a plane essentially changes the shape and surface, causing the plane to become less aerodynamic and less controllable.
De-icing a plane is crucial for a safe take-off and flight. This process starts with someone who inspects the plane to check for ice. If any build up of ice is found, it is sent to the de-icing pad where De-Icers spray the plane down in de-icing spray. De-icing spray is a mixture of glycol and water (basically a higher concentration of your car's windshield washer fluid), that is heated up and sprayed at high pressures to remove ice from the planes.
7. Eagle Lift Crew
Airports and airlines do try to accommodate for people in wheelchairs. Some airlines have a special machine they occasionally use to help move people on and off the planes during boarding and un-boarding, called an Eagle Lift.
The Eagle Lift Crew goes from flight to flight where any wheelchair assistance is required and uses The Eagle Lift to help passengers on or off the aircraft.
8. Load Agent
Every plane has to be balanced in weight before take-off. If a plane isn't loaded and balanced properly, it won't lift correctly during take-off and will most definitely not fly properly either.
A Load Agent's job is to ensure the plane's weight is centered and balanced, taking into consideration: the number of passengers, baggage and luggage, cargo, fuel, water, etc. They coordinate with the captains to obtain information to use in their algorithms, which calculate the spread of the weight on the aircraft. Every plane must be approved by a Load Agent before take-off.
Load agents are like the mathematicians of the airport world.
So there you have it, 8 airport jobs you didn't know existed.
Although they might not be flying the planes or serving you food and drinks at your every beck and call, these lesser known airport jobs are all important in ensuring the safety and comfort of your flight. Without all these parts working together as a whole, exploring the world one corner at a time would prove to be much more challenging.