Considering Detailed Exterior Cleaning Procedures for Aircraft

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Sofema Online (SOL) considers detailed exterior cleaning procedures for aircraft 

Introduction - The following elements have been identified as essential in achieving the best outcome related to exterior cleaning.


>> Safety Checks: Before initiating the cleaning process, conduct a thorough inspection to ensure all panels, covers, and access points are securely fastened.

>> Sealing: Ensure all openings, including vents and seams, are sealed to prevent the ingress of cleaning solutions or water which could damage internal components.

Initial Cleaning:

>> Heavy Contaminant Removal: For thick mud, grease, or oil:

>> Hand Scraping: Utilize non-abrasive tools made of wood or soft plastic to avoid scratching or damaging the surface.

>> Solvent Wiping: Use a lint-free cloth soaked in an appropriate solvent. Ensure the solvent is compatible with the aircraft's surface material.

>> Surface Protection: Exercise caution to avoid stripping paint or compromising anti-corrosive coatings.

Solvent Cleaning:

>> Solvent Selection: Use the recommended solvent, often diluted with hot water to enhance its cleaning efficacy.

>> Application: Use a sprayer to apply the diluted solvent to the aircraft's surface. Ensure the nozzle is adjusted to prevent atomization which can lead to uneven application.

>> Dwell Time: Allow the solvent to sit for the recommended time to effectively break down contaminants.

>> Rinsing: Thoroughly rinse the surface with clean water, ensuring all solvent residues are removed. This step is crucial to prevent potential corrosion or surface damage.

Important Notes

Pressure Caution: When using water hoses or pressure washers, adjust the pressure settings to avoid damage. Ensure that water does not penetrate seals or openings.

Acrylic Care: Refrain from using undiluted solvents on acrylic windows as they can cause clouding or cracks.

Manufacturer’s Guidelines: Always adhere to the solvent manufacturer’s instructions for optimal results and safety.

Post-Cleaning Maintenance:

Re-lubrication: Some mechanical components may require lubrication after cleaning. Ensure that lubricants are compatible and avoid contact with sealed bearings to prevent premature wear.

Cleaning Heavily Contaminated Exterior Areas

Contamination Sources: Certain aircraft areas, especially near engines, can accumulate heavy contamination from exhaust gas deposits. Recognize these areas based on the aircraft model and operational history.

Corrosion Risk: Persistent contamination can accelerate corrosion, leading to structural weaknesses and expensive repairs.

Deep Cleaning:

>> Cleaner Selection: Opt for stronger, specialized cleaners recommended for the specific aircraft or affected component.

>> Handling: Use protective equipment when handling potent cleaners.

>> Dilution: Depending on the cleaner's formulation, dilution with water or white spirit might be necessary.

>> Application: Use a non-atomizing sprayer for even application.

>> Soaking: Allow the cleaner to penetrate contaminants for the specified duration. Ensure it remains wet and doesn't evaporate prematurely.

>> Scrubbing: If necessary, a second application combined with gentle scrubbing using a soft brush can enhance cleaning.

>> Rinsing: Thoroughly rinse with warm, clean water to ensure all residues are removed.


>> Surface Sensitivity: Painted surfaces and acrylic windows are susceptible to damage from potent cleaning solutions.

>> Always test a small area first and be observant during the cleaning process.

>> Safety First: Always prioritize safety and meticulousness.

>> Proper cleaning not only enhances the aircraft's visual appeal but also contributes to its operational longevity and safety.

Next Steps

Please see the following training course Aircraft Servicing, Cleaning, and Detailing – 2 Days. For questions or comments please email

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