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August 4, 2010

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Aircraft mechanic sweats more than most

THERE'S hot. And there's crazy hot.

While there are many people working outdoors in the extreme heat, not many toil away on an airfield where the temperature soars above 50 degrees Celsius.

But this is aircraft mechanic Jin Changyou's life.

He spends long hours working on a hot and noisy airfield at Hongqiao International Airport to keep air travelers safe.

Jin said he has to stay on the airport's parking apron under the scorching sun for at least six hours during a 12-hour shift that often requires overtime.

The 24-year-old said the most important part of the job is to check the engines and undercarriage of each plane as they are the keys to safe flying.

"My work area is right next to the engines, the hottest area on the apron," the mechanic told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

"I sweat so much that you can see the salt stains on my clothes after they dry at the end of the work day," said Jin, who works on Airbus planes.

For his hard work, he gets free bottles of soda water when the temperature reaches 35 degrees or above and a 600 yuan (US$88.57) summer subsidy.

The heat is a double whammy. For one, Jin and his colleagues suffer in the heat, often becoming sick, and two, mechanical failures are more common on hot days.

Jin said he also has to tune out the great noise aircraft engines make while working as his job essentially requires perfection.

He works 12-hour shifts, but overtime is often required as he can not go home until the last plane he was assigned takes off.

There are about 100 mechanics on duty at a time for Airbus planes, most of them are young.

Jin said his career may not last long as the harsh environment takes a toll on the health of all airplane mechanics.

But the mechanic, who graduated two years ago from Shanghai University of Engineering Science, said he will continue until the time comes to stop.


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