Whether you operate a commercial aircraft that travels across the world or a simple trainer used for pilot training, all aircraft will need to be cleaned on a regular basis. While cleanliness surely upholds general appearances, it is also important to remove any corrosives, pollutants, grease, or other substances in or on your plane as many can lead to the degradation and discoloration of parts. In this blog, we will provide a brief guide on how to properly clean an aircraft, ensuring that you have the basics to kickstart your own care schedule!
To begin, it is easiest to start with the interior of the aircraft, allowing you to remove any scattered documents, pens, flashlights, or other such clutter that may be unnecessarily filling compartments and cargo holds. Once spaces are all cleaned out, you can begin organization to determine what needs to stay in the aircraft and where. Then, only if possible, remove any seats, mats, carpets, or other objects that are blocking access to the floor. This will make the vacuuming process much easier to ensure that dirt and debris are fully cleaned up. For hard-to-reach spots that are more compact, you can always use a rag and spray cleaner. If any stains are located, carpet cleaning chemicals are widely available, and it is just important to ensure that they are compatible with the material in question.
Once the floor is clean, you can focus on the instrument panel where any plastic or vinyl components can be looked over. It is important to discern what surfaces are plastic or vinyl and which are glass, as the two types will use different cleaning solutions. If you require cleaning products that are specialized for aircraft cleaning, you may be able to purchase aerospace cleaning products from a service provider or a distributor. To avoid damaging any surfaces, always apply the cleaning solution to the rag you are using, not directly on the surface itself. Some glass products will also be usable on the interior windows, allowing you to save time.
As the last need, the aircraft seats themselves should be cleaned, and special care should be taken to ensure that every nook, cranny, and fold is free from dirt and debris. If the seats are made from leather materials, they may wear out over time with exposure to UV rays and various messes. To best protect leather, specialized products that are used for automobile or home leather can be used, and it is important that you choose a UV protectant spray given that the seats will most likely have ample exposure.
After finalizing the interior with whatever other tasks you need to carry out, it is time to tackle the exterior of the aircraft. The first thing you should do is conduct a wash of the exterior to ensure that any corrosives are removed as they are extremely harmful to the body of the aircraft. Even if you do not actively fly your aircraft all the time, it will still have a build up of dirt and debris over time.
The process of conducting an external wash is fairly simple, and the first step is to shut and seal all doors and openings to prevent moisture from entering the aircraft. The next step is to soak the aircraft with water so that dirt and debris begin to loosen up. With a soft brush, you can begin wiping off the surface while ensuring that paint is not scratched. You should always save the underside of the fuselage for last so that you do not spread contaminants or dirty areas you already cleaned as water runs down the side of surfaces. The best way to ensure that you tackle the fuselage in the right way is to scrub in the direction of airflow across the aircraft. Once the fuselage surfaces and exterior windows are tackled, you can begin drying the aircraft with clean towels, and a condensation check can be done simply by breathing on the surface. If condensation occurs, you will need to dry it more so that it does not face the risk of ice formation in colder climates.
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