Insider’s Guide to Aircraft Cleaning

Insights, tips and products to help keep your aircraft clean and your boss happy.

Flying is a dirty business. Corrosives, pollutants, bugs, dirt, grease, acid rain – you name it and it’s stuck to the various parts of your aircraft’s exterior. It’s even worse inside the cabin. Crumbs, ink stains, wine spills and other stuff you don’t even want to think about are left behind in carpets, seats, galleys and lavatories after every flight.
The challenge is someone – usually the aircraft’s technician – has to clean up this mess. And done correctly, it’s a more labor-intensive task than you might imagine.

“For a typical mid-size aircraft like a Falcon 50, I’d estimate that you’re looking at 100-man hours to thoroughly clean the interior and wash and polish the exterior, do the bright work and the like,” explained Jim Garland, President/CEO, Sharp Details Inc., ( “We’d typically have five guys on a project like that for two and a half days. It’s a lot of work.”

Too true. In fact, in today’s world of doing more with fewer people, aircraft cleaning is falling farther and farther down an operation’s priority list. Garland also said that the exterior should be waxed every 300- to 400-hours of flight time and that the bright work should be done at least twice a year. Alas, even with the best of intentions, that’s a lot of extra work for the average flight department.

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