If you're the kind of guy who counts activities like having teeth pulled for non-medical reasons, trying to find ways to pay more
in taxes, getting married, pissing out kidney stones or changing out dog-poop cans as "fun", then yes, it is that. Very.
The truth is that it's a very
labor intensive gig, and there are precisely three reasons to get involved with it.
A. You need money, and you don't know a loan shark.
B. You are looking for an entry level gig that you can promote your way out of, and
like hanging out with airplanes and Airport Trash. A lot.
C. You intensely hate everything there ever was, is, or will be about yourself, and/or are possibly paying off some ridiculous debt you racked up in a previous life.
The money's generally crap-ish.
So let's talk about this job. Despite what I've said above, there's a lot interesting about it...
There are a number of ways, and as mentioned above, drywashing is the most common. There are two reasons for this.
A. First, most airports do not allow wet-washing for environmental reasons. This leaves drywashing as the only effective method.
B. It's cheap.
|Quoting cosyr (Thread starter):|
How often does a big airline like UA or DL wash each plane (since they have more than 700)? Does anyone actually scrub difficult oil stains?
Depends. I know that US Airways was on a 180 day cycle as of two years ago for single aisles & about 260 for twin aisle & 757 ETOPS aircraft.
is experimenting with a hybrid dry/wet wash at this time & DL
drywashes on a similar scale to US.
program in place and washes their aircraft with a very brief power water wash session at their C check intervals. Bare metal makes it hard to tell from far away (it hides a lot more than you might think), but their planes are about the worst in the business, (domestically).
is one of the only airlines I know of that do this in house. I'd say their results are decent, but the horrible quality of the 1st batch of their canyon blue paints makes it hard to tell sometimes.
Airlines like VX
actually do a much better job, as their philosophies here center around doing a lighter cleaning more often. Up close, you can see where a job may not have been as thorough, but since it's done way more often, you have to really
be looking for dirt to spot it.
Oil stains... These are actually the easiest to remove, especially the "soft" oil buildups on the engine nacelle bottoms & APU regions. What's hard to remove are things like skydrol buildups. These can, over time, develop into a sandpaper-like film, which will require things like plastic scrapers and lots of time to pull off, in addition to the usually amount of degreaser & drywash compound. A streak thirty feet long and roughly half the width of the lowermost A32X belly panel will use up about 10 man hours to remove.
This part's kinda long, so if you want to skip it, I won't be offended.
If you're asking what a typical dry wash looks like, (and maybe why I said all those nice things about it above!), I think the best way to explain is to run you through what a typical shift looks like. All contracts are different, so I'll run through an anonymous one from a few years ago...
First off, you don't actually know whether you're working tonight or not. Though the plan is for five washes a week, there are a lot of factors that go into whether you work a given night.
What's the WX
situation? Things like JetShield do not work well below about 35 degrees, or when it's humid out, or at all when it rains. By coincidence, most employees don't work well under those conditions. So, we need to make sure that the weather is right before you can work.
Next, what tail #s are in? If it's been done too recently, you can't work it. If your client airline only sends you seven RONs a night this can frequently be a problem.
Once you've made it past those hurdles, is there MX
being done on that plane tonight? Though keeping the plane clean is important for a number of reasons, almost all MX
will trump that, and the airline does not like to start a wash once you get to within a certain time to departure; usually about six hours.
Ok, so you've made it that far. Now, do you have the minimum number of JetWipes ready to show up? Why on earth would this be a problem? Don't employees always show up for work? Well, the job itself is very laborious and the schedule is unpredictable. As well, at most airports, getting from E lot to ramp is a pain in the ass. And of course, in return for selling your time for airport minimum, you get the unpredictability of life at 3 - 5 days a week for all of the above factors. So what happens? Well most of these guys have more than one job, since counting on this would lead to starvation and the exact opposite of wealth. Not surprisingly, turnover is as high as folks who think Pauli Shore is funny. A lot of people are also magically sick on Friday & Saturday nights. Weird, huh?
Alright, so you've made it past all that and you have a shift. Get your stuff together and get out to the airplane. It takes about an hour to get people and supplies from clock in to gate, or remote. Sometimes less, but that's what needs to be planned on.
After that, MX
is contacted so they can get out there and seal up things like Static Ports (wouldn't be good to leave 'Shield in those), and tell you the plane's ready. This process can take anywhere from right away to our all time record of six hours. Really depends on how busy they are. Count on waiting a little bit though.
So now, you're working. You're going to need spotlights, headlamps, and/or kleig lights to illuminate your area, and lifts to get up topside. That rudder aint gonna wash itself!
The wash compound goes on like a car wax, and can be left on as long as you like. For most dirt grime, simply going over this and applying light pressure as you do so is enough to get the job done. But as mentioned above, special areas will require special attention, and sometimes, going over it a time or six. To remove the compound, a swipe with a rag will do. And viola, clean plane, you're done. Right?
Well, not really. MX
still has to come out and look it over. Nine times out of ten, they'll sign right off. But when they don't, you're going to be there a while.
When you do actually leave, it's best to change first. I never did this, because, like most others there, I had another job to get to and it really wasn't worth to change and then
shower, etc. But seriously, I'm glad I didn't really care about that car. The accumulation of Jet Wax on my clothes actually hardened my seat and eventually added a layer of "shine" to it. The funny part of all this wasn't the myriad of things my erstwhile girlfriend used to say about that job; it was that I had a girlfriend in the first place!
It was a lot of long and thankless nights, because one part of that job that really doesn't get touched on really stands out after a while... Nobody likes you! Actually, it's not even that; it's more of Everybody doesn't
like you! Whether it's MX
, ground Ops, DX, fueling etc, your job is pretty much to be in everybody's way. But it's not all bad.
I took and kept the job because eventually that company noticed that I have an A&P, PPL, mgmt experience and a few other goodies, and life is now technically awesome. Of course there was some luck involved with all that, but if you're into planes, can't find a job in your exact field, or just want to work at a major airport, this is a pretty good way in. You just don't want to stay there for life, lol.
|Quoting Tristarsteve (Reply 7):|
They clean all the wheels and brakes, and then the bellies if they have time
That's great. Wheels & Brakes are always the first things to look awful on any plane, and it would be really great if domestic airlines paid attention to this during their cleaning cycle. They're a lot more noticeable than people realize and it makes a huge difference in appearance. To me, a freshly washed plane with dirty wheels is like a beautiful, naked woman. With a ripe and raging yeast infection. It's a critical detail that just ruins the whole thing!
Much like a GE90, I'm a huge fan of Big Twins...