In the Mojave Desert in California, Qantas engineers are taking on the rattlesnakes and scorpions who call the desert home.
Its pistons at dawn for the workers based at the airline's Los Angeles hanger. They've had to add a new pre-inspection procedure to avoid unfortunate encounters with rattlesnakes when they carry out weekly maintenance checks on the A380s in storage.
The desert-based airfield is probably one of the most famous aircraft parking lots in the world, with airlines from all over sending their grounded aircraft there for long term storage.
The dry heat and low humidity of the California desert makes it the ideal storage facility for aircraft, but also the ideal environment for the highly venomous Mojave rattlesnakes and scorpions, both which are prone to setting up camp around the wheel wells and tyres of the planes.
Qantas engineering manager in LA Tim Heywood said having engineers conduct regular inspections is a vital part of keeping the aircraft in top condition during their downtime. But staff need to be ready to snake, rattle and roll should they encounter one of the slithering creatures.
"Every aircraft has its own designated 'wheel whacker', otherwise known as a repurposed broom handle, as part of the engineering kit, complete with each aircraft's registration written on it," Heywood said in a blog post.
"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.
"Only then do we carefully approach each wheel and unwrap them before performing our pressure checks and visual inspections."
Engineers are used to dealing with creatures of all kinds getting too close to aircraft such as birds and insects that nest in the crevices in the fuselage, but in Victorville California, the threats are a bit more slithery than they are sneaky.
"We've encountered a few rattlesnakes and also some scorpions, but the wheel whacker does its job and they scuttle off. It's a unique part of looking after these aircraft while they're in storage and it's another sign of how strange the past year has been. These A380s would rarely spend more than a day on the ground when they were in service."
The engineers are essentially the caretakers of these aircraft as they sit lonely and miles from home in the heat. Their work involves everything from covering the interior seats with plastic sheeting to applying protective film to the top of the rudder and on all of the cabin windows.
The wheels, tyres and landing gear legs are wrapped in protective film and all inlets and orifices on the fuselage are plugged to avoid insects, birds and even bats making themselves at home.
The last thing you'd want is a snake in your chute.
Any snake that chose to ignore the wheel whacker this week would have gotten an even bigger shock. One of the A380s took to the skies for the first time in 290 days, flying from Victorville to undergo a gear swing procedure at LAX.
The 290-tonne aircraft was jacked up and its landing gear swung up and down for testing.
"It was terrific to see the A380 in full flight once again, some of these aircraft have brand new interiors still with the plastic on the seats so we are proud to keep them in top notch condition until the time comes for them to fly again," a Qantas engineer said.
"We can hang up our wheel whackers at that point."