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Cleanliness is Next… on the Checklist: Proper cleaning of an aircraft

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Piper Cherokee with cabin cover helps keep interior of the aircraft clean

As an authorized inspector I see a lot of neglected aircraft. Many suffer from corrosion and other damage associated with not keeping the aircraft clean or using improper chemicals and cleaning materials. An aircraft’s exterior needs regular and proper cleaning—and the engine, interior, windows and upholstery all need to be kept clean as well.

Planning and preparation

While it may not seem to be a big deal to clean an aircraft, there really is more to it than going out, washing the plane, rinsing it off, and considering it done. While the basic measure is simple enough, it’s the planning and preparation that are important.

As a military aircraft maintenance technician I was involved in maintaining aircraft. The maintenance-plan aircraft were subject to a regular schedule for washing; a freshwater rinse after flying over saltwater; with a turbine engine wash and preservation program to follow. There were work cards and checklists for each task and specific procedures to observe.

Certainly a similar procedure may seem to be overkill for washing a small plane. But no matter the cost or size of the aircraft, a systematic approach to cleaning it will protect your investment and aid in proper maintenance.

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