Now that flying season is here, it’s time to start thinking about sprucing up your aircraft. A few helpful cleaning tips are in order.
Cleaning your aircraft in the spring is always a wise idea. It’s the perfect time to prepare for fly-ins and summer trade shows, and the consistent days of warmer weather will make it easier to get the job done in suitable outdoor conditions.
When cleaning your aircraft, it’s just as important to know what to do as it is to know what not to do. Every great polishing job begins with a squeaky clean exterior. That’s why cleaning your aircraft is the first and most important step to tuning up your bright work.
First Things First
Ask any aircraft technician who knows anything about polishing airplanes, and they’ll be sure to emphasize the importance of an excellent cleaning job. No matter the technique preferred, a good cleaning is always essential as the first action to take.
It’s always a great idea to begin assessing the kind of cleaning job ahead of you by keeping your initial purpose in mind. Are you cleaning in anticipation of an aircraft inspection? Are you cleaning in order to prepare for a public show, such as a trade show of fly-in? These are important questions to ask that will lend purpose to your cleaning efforts.
Types of Aircraft Cleaners
Another good question for initiating the cleaning process is what type of cleaning agent you should use for the job. You’ll want a cleaner that is primed for use on aircraft. This may mean sticking to cleaners that are suitable for aluminum or aluminum based metals.
What type of wash are you shooting for? If it’s a wet wash, you’ll need to stick with water-based cleaners only, and be mindful of EPA standards regarding runoff. If it’s a dry wash, be sure to carefully select soft cleaning cloths and brushes so as not to harm the surface of the exterior while cleaning. You’ll need a good spray and wash cleaner for the best streak-free cleaning job.
Getting the Most Out of Your Aircraft Cleaning job
When cleaning the exterior of your craft, the goal is always to remove as much unwanted material from the surface as possible without damaging or harming it any way. This means removing dust, dirt, bugs and more from the plane’s surface, landing gear, storage units and even under the cowl.
Cleaning does not necessarily involve getting to a crisp and bright shine. Rather, it focuses on preparing the aircraft for a polish job by removing debris and other substances first.
Moving to the interior will require careful attention to details as well. Start by collecting all trash and miscellaneous items such as pens, paper items, cups and any other materials that guests may have left behind. The interior will need to be vacuumed completely. Also, now is a good time to clean the interior windows as well as any glass, plexiglass, wood or chrome fixtures inside the plane.
Any cleaning job would be incomplete without proper attention given to what’s under the hood. Cleaning the cowl and the engine by removing gunky buildup and other unwanted substances will have your aircraft running like a dream. The best method to use is to forgo brushes and other cumbersome instruments and attack the job by hand. This will ensure that even the coziest spots get the cleaning they need.
Preserving the Cleanliness of your Aircraft
Nothing can be more disheartening in any cleaning situation, whether is your home kitchen or an aircraft primed for a busy flight season, than watching all your hard work and efforts rapidly deteriorate in front of your eyes. Without proper attention given to preserving a recent cleaning job, that’s just what can happen.
For an aircraft, any deep cleaning of the interior should be followed up by a good conditioning of cloth surfaces with a stain resistor or with germicidal materials. These will prevent stains and spots in the future as well as ensure the health and well-being of guests. With the impinging threat of communicable diseases like Ebola and the flu (especially at springtime), this last step is one that would be wise not to overlook.
It should be noted that there are a variety of cleaning and conditioning agents out there for aircraft interiors, but the most sustainable choices can be found among the top green products on the market. These do the excellent work of cleaning and fighting harmful microbes without the counter effect of releasing dangerous chemicals into the inner environment of a plane.
For preserving the plane’s exterior tidiness, aluminum-safe sealants and protectants will help. Again, there are are number of suitable products on the market each with their own admirable traits. However, sticking with those that have the least impact on the environment always goes a long way toward keeping an aircraft safe and clean without promoting damage to the natural world.
Once all debris has been removed from the interior and exterior and any cleaning agents used and put away, it’s a good time to turn your attention to lubrication. Because a plane can undergo so much use over long periods time, it’s important to make sure that all parts remain in good working condition, and that requires lubricating all mechanical parts for consistent and long-lasting productivity.
A handy guide for lubricating the various parts of an aircraft usually comes with the manufacturer’s instructions, which is wise to always have on hand during a routine cleaning job. The guide will help technicians navigate which lubricants are best for each area of the plan. This is important as some spots may have the need for heavier lubricants than others.
Tips for Cleaning Your Aircraft
These tips are just a summary of all that can be done to get your aircraft into a clean and safe condition ahead of a busy season of flying and performing at shows and events. Each technician and aircraft enthusiast gains his or her own methods for cleaning along the way, gaining experience by diving right in to each job with enthusiasm.
Keep in mind that an excellent polish job can only be as good as its preceding cleaning job, and you’ll get excellent results from the entire process every time.