Snakes, scorpions, and Qantas planes

Courtesy Qantas

Like a lot of airlines, Qantas is storing planes in the Mojave Desert while it waits for travel to return to pre-COVID levels.

The dry heat and low humidity of the desert make the California desert a good place to store the airline’s A380 aircraft. But engineers tasked with maintaining the planes have created their own special tool to deal with rattlesnakes and scorpions that like to hang out in and around the airplane wheel well and tires.

Qantas Manager for Engineering in Los Angeles, Tim Heywood, explains in a Qantas “Roo Tale,” that engineers make regular trips from LA to Victorville, CA to do aircraft inspections and that “encounters of the slithering and rattling kind are all part of the job.”

“Every aircraft has its own designated ‘wheel whacker’ – a repurposed broom handle- as part of the engineering kit, complete with each aircraft’s registration written on it,” said Heywood. “The first thing we do before we unwrap and start any ground inspections of the landing gear, in particular, is to walk around the aircraft stomping our feet and tapping the wheels with a wheel whacker to wake up and scare off the snakes. That’s about making sure no harm comes to our engineers or the snakes.”

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