Topic Author
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Joined: Sat Sep 04, 1999 3:15 am

Cleaning Aircraft

Fri Jan 07, 2000 12:58 pm

Can anyone comment on how aircraft are washed or polished? With all the commentary on dirty and clean aircraft on here, I am curious what procedures and chemicals are used. Is the process in any way similar to washing and polishing a car?

All comments welcome!
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RE: Cleaning Aircraft

Fri Jan 07, 2000 2:36 pm

When I worked at Tradewinds I heard of a tradition where they made new mechanics wash the L-1011 with a big squeegee on a really long pole. I didn't really pay attention until I saw one lone guy doing it one day. He spent an entire shift washing the front, then it flew to Puerto Rico and back, then he finished washing the rear the next day. For the high parts of the plane he got a manlift.

I've also heard of big scaffoldings under which you can taxi a plane and it'll spray it clean - I think they have one in Louisville - but I've never seen one in person. Maybe someone else can describe one.

RE: Cleaning Aircraft

Fri Jan 07, 2000 5:34 pm

My dad works in Exterior Appearance for American. Here in San Diego, we are one of the few cities that has a washrack, which is the area where the planes are washed. (For those familiar with SAN, the washrach is just west of the commuter terminal). The process used is much the same as at a carwash... The plane is soaked with water, then sprayed with soap. The plane is scrubbed with brushes resembling mops on long poles, and then it is rinsed back off. American washes something like 8 planes per night in SAN, and a commensurate number at their other washracks (I don't know where te others are). After it's cleaned, the plane is towed back to the terminal. This is done at night (my dad's shift is 2030-0530) when the planes are just sitting at the terminal anyway.
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RE: Cleaning Aircraft

Sat Jan 08, 2000 4:25 am

I remember seeing an amazing contraption probably similar to what Purdue Cadet has described on the Australian TV programme 'Beyond 2000'. It is similar to a gigantic car wash and was completely computer controlled. If I remember correctly, it was developed by Lufthansa and works so well that other airlines flying in to Germany make use of their machine.

It just so happens that a member of the forum, 'Amir', works for Lufthansa in Frankfurt and I think the machine was installed there. I will E-mail him and ask him if he can confirm and maybe give us a detailed description of it.

Behind every "no" is a "yes"

RE: Cleaning Aircraft

Sat Jan 08, 2000 4:56 am

The American washrack here at SAN is not a computer controlled machine.... It is a crew of people who wash the airplanes by hand.
Topic Author
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Purdue Cadet

Sun Jan 09, 2000 5:54 am

I think that washrack in SAN is pretty well-known...Did you know that NASA flew their 747-100 into SAN in the early '70s to wash it there? I was taking swimming lessons at the Y and I heard it taking off...747s have a very distinct engine sound, as we all know...and I looked up and saw it. My mother didn't believe me, but it was in the papers the next day. It was the 747 which used to carry the space shuttle piggy-back.  
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RE: Cleaning Aircraft

Sun Jan 09, 2000 12:52 pm

at aircan we use avia wash heavy duty cleaner dont use it on the car it will eat the paint use high pressure washers both hand held ( like at the car wash ) and hard mounted to mechnical arm first you scrub with scoth brite to get the oil, soot and skydrol loosened and then hit it with the high pressure and we have crews who only do this.
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RE: Cleaning Aircraft

Sun Jan 09, 2000 1:03 pm

What is "skydrol" ???
Bruce Leibowitz - Jackson, MS (KJAN) - Canon 50D/100-400L IS lens
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RE: Cleaning Aircraft Defin. Skydrol

Mon Jan 10, 2000 2:28 am

sorry about that cheif skydrol is the brand name for the synthetic hydraulic fluid used on all large commercial a/c such as 737 a320 etc not supposed to freeze until about -60 and not suppsed to be flammable which it isn't until you put it under pressure (like 3000 psi which is the presure used in most civil a/c used by airlines today). hope that helps answer your question.

RE: Cleaning Aircraft

Mon Jan 10, 2000 3:23 am

Our A/C at C3000 are handwashed during every A check. A whole crew of cleaners use highlifts, ladders and stands with rags and spray bottles to clean the whole exterior. This is done at least once a month to every A/C in the fleet. Don't forgot we have only 15 A/C
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RE: Cleaning Aircraft

Mon Jan 10, 2000 10:56 am

How often are commercial A/C washed (in general)?

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