Salute to female aircraft crew

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China Express Airlines has a female crew - Mulan Crew which consists of seven crew members with an average age of 26. They all graduated from Civil Aviation University of China, they love to put on makeup, and they can also carry heavy maintenance tools.

“Mulan Crew” is subordinate to the Aircraft Overhaul Department of CE Maintenance, and such department is equivalent to the “inpatient department” of the aircraft. The aircraft needs regular maintenance when it flies for certain hours. The persons who perform the inspection is called “aircraft crew”.

Born in 1995, Zhang Li is the eldest one in the crew. Aircraft maintenance is a highly repetitive job in which the crew tends to overlook details, leading to occurrence of “events”. From wings, landing gear and engines to hatches, covers and antennae, she has a keen eye for every flaw.

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As the only female repairer in the cabin area, Wei Jing often laughs at herself that she is a “repairer” after completing a bachelor’s degree. She is thin and soft-spoken, but she doesn’t want to be “taken care of” and always scrambles to do the heavy work.

Compared with men, women are slimmer and better to operate in any compact interior space of an aircraft. Liu Yuxin lays on her side in the belly of the aircraft, while shining front light on the plughole to ensure that the letters next to the plughole in the belly of the aircraft correspond to each wire. If one of the wires fails to correspond, the aircraft will report a malfunction.

In summer, there is direct sunlight in the cockpit, and the air-conditioning system is prohibited during maintenance, so the airtight cabin is stuffy and hot, and even the highest temperature can reach 40℃ which leads to wet work clothes. 27-aged Fu Yuanqi makes many male colleagues feel inferior with her unyielding strength.

Their skin is not as delicate as that of ordinary girls due to perennial exposure to wind and sun. Their hands that often take a tool, and their foot that wear anti-hit shoes also are callused.

Maintenance work makes them feel dirty, tired and bitter, and even sleep during day and work at night. Although there is a gap in physical quality with male colleagues, women’s carefulness has become the biggest advantage.

In their work, they could install rivets, unscrew screws, and get into cargo holds; and in life, they can easily install cabinets, shelves, light bulbs and even adjust the brake pads of their vehicle.

When seeing the aircraft repaired by her is put into use again, Zhang Li would whisper “pleasant journey”. When she saw the aircraft she had repaired make a smooth landing, she felt like watching it go home again. In civil aviation, female repairers are like tiny screws: they may not be seen, but they are important.

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