By Mark Bollman, president and co-owner, Creative Colors International
Travel via business or private jet comes with certain expectations. Passengers expect to travel in comfort, surrounded by clean and tidy interiors. Tears in leather seats or scuffs on side panels can undermine the experience and give the wrong impression. And while quick-fix repair kits can help to patch up some leather and vinyl damage, the ideal long-term solution is conducting preventative maintenance on interior surfaces. When it comes to larger, more complicated, or repeated tears and damage, repair and restoration experts can help repair, re-dye or restore seats and other interior surfaces to look like new.
Maintain Your Leather
Regular Upkeep Is Vital
Taking the time to maintain leather will save money in the long run. Replacement parts for aviation interiors are very expensive. Simple cleaning, restoration or repairs can literally save thousands of dollars. Regular upkeep results in fewer rips and tears in the leather. It is recommended to conduct light cleaning, including wet dusting and vacuuming in crevices, after every flight. Wet dusting is simple – take a white cloth towel, immerse it in warm, clean water, wring it out completely and then gently wipe down the leather surface. In addition to regular cleanings, it’s recommended to do a deeper cleaning every 90 days and call in cleaning professionals at least once a year. It’s particularly important to pay special attention to surfaces that are more susceptible to every day wear and tear, such as leather or vinyl armrests and seat cushions.
Stay on Top of Minor Rips
It’s also very important to stay on top of minor tears in the leather. Repairing a small imperfection immediately will keep that rip from spreading. Unattended holes or tears in leather are likely to spread and worsen over time, which could lead to a necessary interior refurbishment and/or costly replacement.
It seems fairly obvious, but it’s best to avoid sharp objects coming in contact with leather upholstery. Leather is susceptible to cuts, burns and even surface scratches. Even common objects such as pens, computers, tablets, purses, and children’s toys can have adverse effects on a plane’s interior.
Another potential danger to a plane’s interiors are newspapers. Newspapers may seem innocuous, but if left in contact with leather surfaces for too long, the newspaper ink is likely to transfer onto the leather. Worse yet, the ink is notoriously difficult to remove.
Newspaper ink is not the only dye airplane owner should beware of; it is advisable to never cover your leather surfaces with colored (especially red) sheets or blankets as the dye may rub onto the leather, even when both surfaces are dry.
Finally, when maintaining the interior it is advisable to know your cleaning chemicals. Some chemicals may alter the color or feel of the leather. It is highly advisable to ONLY use cleaning products specifically designed for leather or vinyl that are water-based.
As for cleaning, a leather cleaner can be created easily and cost effectively. Simply mix one ounce of Ivory dish soap to 11 ounces of water then combine these ingredients in a clean spray bottle. After applying the solution, the surfaces should be rubbed dry with a soft, clean cloth.
What to Look for BEFORE Buying a Plane
When purchasing a plane, there are a multitude of factors to take into consideration. In terms of aviation interior, potential owners should research and review the maintenance log and survey the interiors carefully, looking for any small tears or signs of poor repairs.
Owning and maintaining a private plane is often quite expensive, so it’s important to be budget conscious with regard to maintaining the plane’s interior. Therefore, before choosing to replace any interior seats or surfaces, be sure to contact a local expert to see if it’s possible to repair and restore instead of replace.