Flying Engineers Part II: "There is no such thing as a normal day"

Rosenbauer presented the exciting field of work of the "flying engineers" already in its last newsletter. Alexandra Schuster and Wolfgang Loidl are two of about 20 Rosenbauer employees who serve customers across the world – from service and warranty work to repairs and training. In the interview they describe the daily challenges and talk about some of the more comical and strange experiences.


How did you become a "flying engineer"?


Alexandra: I completed my training in the workshop of the Vienna Airport. Already back then, I really enjoyed troubleshooting problems on a variety of special vehicles. As a volunteer fire fighter, I was especially fascinated with firefighting vehicles. This was a big factor when it came to choosing this career path.


Wolfgang: I'm a trained vehicle electrician and then worked at the Rosenbauer Customer Service Department. And now I have been a "flying engineer" for two years.


What does a typical workday look like for you?


Wolfgang: It varies greatly: In the office, there are many queries to respond to and offers to be created. Then you have to carry out the actual work at the customer's location, which means our job never gets boring.


Alexandra: It is hard to describe a typical day, because there is no such thing. Some days are more mellow, while others are quite busy. Some problems can be fixed in just a few seconds and others can take days. 


What is the most exciting thing about your career?


Alexandra: Foreign countries and cultures are naturally challenging. In some countries, punctuality is non-existent, or many hours are spent stuck in traffic. Even poisonous animals are a concern sometimes. There are many experiences that would be impossible with a regular job at home.


Wolfgang: Handing over new vehicles and equipment to an emergency response organization and providing them with training is a really great feeling. Because I know that this is helping people and maybe even saves lives.


You must have had some amazing experiences traveling abroad. What have been some of your most bizarre experiences?


Alexandra: There are strange customs in many countries, which leave us as Europeans astonished. In Mongolia, for example, there is a special transport service: many driver's swear by vodka, saying that it helps fight the bitter cold of winter. If you drink too much, you can hire a driver to drop off your car in front of your house. I have also been in a few awkward situations going through security checks. People have a hard time imagining why a woman is hauling around so many heavy tools in her luggage. In China, someone decided to test whether Loctite is actually flammable, because they saw the flammable symbol on the container. And, of course, language barriers make for many funny situations: in Honduras, I was once tasked with training eight people in English. Eventually, the seminar room was filled with 45 firemen who could only speak Spanish. You have to be good at improvising!


Wolfgang: When I first started, I traveled to many Arab countries. Everything from clothing and culture to the attitudes of the people are naturally much different than in Europe. But I've always gotten along very well with everyone.


Alexandra: Despite all of the cultural differences, there is always one common thread: fire services. I find it fascinating that the same goal is being pursued all across the world, just with different resources and options.