Future plane mechanics learn how to battle the cold in Vienna

VIENNA, Ohio (WYTV) – Americans spent more money on cyber Monday this year than ever before — almost $7 billion. And all of those packages have to be delivered.

In Vienna, future aviation mechanics are learning how to battle the cold and keep the air systems flying.

“Cargo flights can be cancelled,” said Tom Repula, lead instructor at Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics. “But as soon as one cancels, it backs up something else and it’s a whole network in the system that gets out of whack.”

Mechanics-in-training learn how to repair planes at the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics in Vienna. They also learn how to fight the weather.

Generally speaking, airplanes do well in the cold, but there are problem spots.

“There are some systems you wouldn’t even think of,” Instructor Michael Ernst said. “The potable water, for example, usually has to get tested.”

Something as simple as a frozen water line can cause major issues for aircraft. So each system has to be checked.

Ice and snow are the enemies of aircraft.

“If it sits outside — after Thursday night, the snow — it would take quite a bit of time for someone to clean up all that snow and remove all that ice off of there,” Repula said. “Because it has to be completely gone before that airplane can fly.”

Most planes use heat from the engines to heat the wings. A metal strip is a de-icing system that must be certified before each flight.

“If it’s not getting the proper heat, we can find that and test prior to it being discovered in flight,” Ernst said. “That would be an in-flight emergency, if all of a sudden the pilot notices the wings are getting an ice build up and they have no way of getting it off.”

The job of the mechanics is to prevent as many of those emergencies as possible.