Humans of Helsinki Airport: Apron service worker Antti Saastamoinen

People & Aviation
Published
2.5.2018 - 09:00
Antti Saastamoinen
The most demanding part of Antti Saastamoinen’s job is de-icing, because it requires specific knowledge of each aircraft type.

“I’ve always been into airplanes. Back in the day, a friend of mine who worked at the airport felt that I’d be a great fit for this kind of working environment, since I’m a precise and hard-working person. Now, I’ve been an apron service worker at ground handling company Swissport Finland for ten years. For the first five years I only worked winters, but for the last five I’ve been working throughout the year and learning new duties. '

De-icing planes is one of our most mentally demanding tasks, because you need to be both fast and very precise, which creates some pressure. You have to learn the properties of each aircraft type by heart, because different plane types have different demands.

For safety reasons, de-icing is important, because ice, snow and frost alter the properties of the plane’s surfaces and affect, for example, lifting power, takeoff speed and stall speed. They may also increase fuel consumption by up to five per cent.

De-icing one airplane takes 3–15 minutes, depending on the amount of ice, snow and frost on the plane as well as the weather conditions. If the aircraft’s fuselage also needs washing, it will take another 2–8 minutes.

Usually there is a bunch of planes waiting in line while I’m washing. While de-icing, I need to also stay in contact with the pilot and other de-icing trucks via radio, and mind other vehicles and people moving on the apron.

Besides de-icing, our duties as apron service workers include loading and unloading baggage and freight and moving the aircrafts on the apron. I have a brilliant crew of colleagues. The best part about this job is being able to work outdoors. I’ve always loved to work outside, no matter what the weather is like. 

Naturally, after several days of rain you start hoping to catch a glimpse of the sun. I like it best in the summer: in shorts and a T-shirt you can catch a nice "airport tan" – though sometimes part of it is just dirt from aircraft jet engines, so you lose it in the shower.”

Read about what it’s like to be an aircraft cleaner