On the taxiway with the "Polar Bear"

In awe of the sheer size of the aircraft

Nadine Adden deploys heavy equipment at work: The 27-year-old from nearby Erding works as a tug driver and de-icer at Munich Airport. When winter arrives, she helps to make sure that aircraft take off safely.

Pushback – the backward push given to an aircraft to move it out of a park position prior to takeoff – and towing, which refers to the transport of an empty aircraft from one position to another, are part of Nadine Adden's year-round responsibilities.

"At the start, I was in awe of the sheer size of these planes when I was expected to dock the tug with only centimeters to play with. But luckily you get used to it pretty quickly and get a good sense of the radii, dimensions and procedures," explains the airport employee. With a smile, she adds: "And it's excellent practice for parking your car."


  • Nadine Adden loves her job as a de-icer
  • Towing and de-icing
    With the »polar bear« the aircraft is completely freed of ice and moisture
  • The de-icing crew sits as high as 15.5 meters off the ground

"I have a really cool job!"

Every year she looks forward to the start of the winter season, when she is involved in de-icing operations along with the regular pushback and towing work. "I love that," says the 27-year-old, who is the only woman who performs both tasks at Munich Airport.

"Only when the engines and the aircraft are completely free of ice and moisture can they take off safely." For the de-icing operations, Adden and her colleagues use special vehicles known as "polar bears". They are a highlight of the airport fleet, and raise the de-icing crew members who operate them to dizzying heights. The largest polar bear is an impressive 15.5 meters tall!

On occasion, a request also comes from the cockpit to de-ice the engines. Nadine Adden and her colleagues perform that task at the park position by aiming a special hose at the turbine blades. »It's like using an oversized hairdryer,« she explains. Afterwards they get a "last rub" by hand to prevent the residual moisture from freezing again. Nadine Adden sums it up by saying: "I have a really cool job!"

Impressions of the de-icing

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