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Ground Crew Washing 764 At EWR: Why?  
User currently offlineEABch From Switzerland, joined Aug 2011, 2 posts, RR: 0
Posted (2 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 4492 times:

First post here, please excuse any beginner lapses.

I am sitting in the EWR Presidents Club (between gates C120 and C108) and watching a B767-400 being selectively washed with what look like mops on poles by the ground crew. Why would they be doing this? My guess would be for fuel efficiency (a clean plane creates less drag) or a photo-op.

Further information: the reg is N67052 and the aircraft was towed into the gates approximately 30 minutes ago (14:30 EST). The crew has wrapped the landing gear tires to protect them from whatever the cleaning solution is, and seem to be focusing on the underside of the fuselage (though there is a platform lift at the rear which is focusing on the tailplane). The crew is wearing blue latex gloves, but no other kind of protective clothing.

Thanks for satisfying a fellow airline enthusiast's curiosity!

12 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offline474218 From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 6340 posts, RR: 9
Reply 1, posted (2 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 4428 times:

Quoting EABch (Thread starter):
Why would they be doing this?

Airplanes get washed on a scheduled basis and it was N67052's turn! And that is there job!

Quoting EABch (Thread starter):
The crew is wearing blue latex gloves, but no other kind of protective clothing.

What should be wearing, hazmat suits, for soap and water?


User currently offlinefutureualpilot From United States of America, joined May 2000, 2598 posts, RR: 8
Reply 2, posted (2 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 4411 times:

I used to work for a company that washed aircraft for several airlines. The cost was worth the savings in weight and fuel burn for getting rid of all of the dirt, grease and grime that built up on the exterior over time. No harmful chemicals were used, just soap and de-ionized water to prevent spots when it dried.


Life is better when you surf.
User currently offlinebonusonus From United States of America, joined Nov 2009, 403 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (2 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 3993 times:

Quoting 474218 (Reply 1):
What should be wearing, hazmat suits, for soap and water?

What is the reason for wrapping the tires then?


User currently offlineAA737-823 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 5639 posts, RR: 11
Reply 4, posted (2 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 3960 times:

I do this very task once a week, though sadly not for CO or any other carrier you're likely to have heard of.

Quoting bonusonus (Reply 3):
What is the reason for wrapping the tires then?

To keep dirt and grease off of them. Skydrol, especially, is damaging to tires, and we wrap the tires to keep them protected.
It's also to prevent the lubricants from being washed out of the gear and brakes zerks down there.....

You don't actually have to protect the tires from the "soap." In fact, you use the same soap to clean the tires after contamination with skydrol.

Quoting EABch (Thread starter):
but no other kind of protective clothing.

It's not really necessary. Many companies use a specially formulated orange-sol product, which burns your eyes very badly if it gets in them, but is otherwise pretty harmless. Citrus oil tends to do that to your eyes any way.
It's environmentally friendly, too.

The use of blue gloves is nice because the soap WILL dry out your skin.


User currently offlinewn700driver From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (2 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 3937 times:

Quoting EABch (Thread starter):


I am sitting in the EWR Presidents Club (between gates C120 and C108) and watching a B767-400 being selectively washed with what look like mops on poles by the ground crew. Why would they be doing this? My guess would be for fuel efficiency (a clean plane creates less drag) or a photo-op

And you are sure you saw this at 14:30 or so? Usually these tasks are performed during an RON. A crew of four will spend about 8 hours on something like an A321 (It's a lot more sheetmetal than it looks like from far away). I would imagine that a 764 would need at least that amount of time (unless there were like twenty people on it or it's just a partial wash).

Quoting 474218 (Reply 1):
What should be wearing, hazmat suits, for soap and water?

Lol. Hope these guys aren't using just regular soap. There's a product out there that behaves an awful lot like car wax that both cleans and leaves a very very smooth surface when done.

Quoting bonusonus (Reply 3):

What is the reason for wrapping the tires then?

Aside from what others have said already, it may also be the Customer Company's policy. Another airline I know of demands that all work wait until ALL static, pitots, temp and AOA sensors are covered or booted first.

Quoting AA737-823 (Reply 4):

I do this very task once a week, though sadly not for CO or any other carrier you're likely to have heard of.

Can you say who it is here? Always curious about these ops...

Quoting AA737-823 (Reply 4):
Many companies use a specially formulated orange-sol product, which burns your eyes very badly if it gets in them, but is otherwise pretty harmless.

Yes it does, indeed. Other companies use a combination of Orange (for de-greasing) and the wax solution (for shine and protection).


User currently offlineJAGflyer From Canada, joined Aug 2004, 3462 posts, RR: 4
Reply 6, posted (2 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 3861 times:

At my airline the planes are usually fully groomed/externally washed while in the hangar for mtce. This is about every 3 months and/or before/after lease start/end. A team of 8 contractors can wash a 737 inside and out in 6-8 hours.

The soap that I've seen used at several airlines is made by Zepp and it's called "Aircraft Cleaner II". http://www.zep.com/ZepSearch/default...aning&num=20&match=Exact&country=U

[Edited 2011-10-14 18:44:26]

[Edited 2011-10-14 18:47:56]


Support the beer and soda can industry, recycle old airplanes!
User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31576 posts, RR: 57
Reply 7, posted (2 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 3739 times:

Normally carried out by a team on every aircraft every Week,depending on the type.
In Use is soap solution & water.
Dirt on an aircraft will not blow away in flight,thanks to the boundary layer effect,so needs to be wiped off.



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineEABch From Switzerland, joined Aug 2011, 2 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (2 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 3647 times:

Thanks for all the replies, it's wonderful to have a resource like this at my disposal.

Quoting wn700driver (Reply 5):
Quoting wn700driver (Reply 5):
And you are sure you saw this at 14:30 or so? Usually these tasks are performed during an RON.

Very sure I saw this beginning at approximately 14:30. Had to leave around 17:00 for my flight, but by then the cleaning crew had packed up all their gear, unwrapped the types and removed the protective tape from one of the external sensors (below and aft of door R1). I could even see a flight crew doing prep work in the cockpit, so my theory is that the aircraft was towed into the gate from the RON pad or from a scheduled maintenance check, and for some reason CO prefers to do this type of cleaning at the gate prior to departure.

This experience also reminded me that the last time I witnessed a similar cleaning routine at EWR was during the weeks following the Icelandic volcano eruption in April 2010. At the time I assumed it was to clean ash particles from the aircraft skin. However, since it took place at approximately the same location (if memory serves: one of the north-side gates on the central pier of Terminal C) and I could see no other wide-bodies receiving similar treatment, perhaps it was also just a regular wash.


User currently onlineha763 From United States of America, joined Jan 2003, 3597 posts, RR: 6
Reply 9, posted (2 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 3517 times:
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Quoting EABch (Thread starter):
and seem to be focusing on the underside of the fuselage (though there is a platform lift at the rear which is focusing on the tailplane).

Did it look something like this?

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Je89 W.

Quoting wn700driver (Reply 5):

Doesn't have to be a RON, just enough time to get it done before the next flight. When CO used to fly NGO-HNL, they would taxi the aircraft over to the maintenance hangar after arrival since the next flight for the aircraft was 4-6 hours later. In that time, they would do whatever checks or cleaning. The same went for any of CO's long layovers at HNL.


User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31576 posts, RR: 57
Reply 10, posted (2 years 6 months 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 3005 times:

Better equipment is a Portable battery driven cart that height can increased vertically & horizontal speed is very slow.


Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineSulley From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 524 posts, RR: 3
Reply 11, posted (2 years 6 months 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 2760 times:

CO loves clean planes. To CO, a clean plane is a happy plane 


In thrust we trust!
User currently offlineMSPNWA From United States of America, joined Apr 2009, 1828 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (2 years 6 months 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 2529 times:

Quoting wn700driver (Reply 5):
I would imagine that a 764 would need at least that amount of time (unless there were like twenty people on it or it's just a partial wash).

I would guess that it was a partial wash. I saw this very same thing in HNL a few years ago. N212UA received a tail/rear fuselage scrubbing in the short amount of ground time it had before turning back to the mainland.


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