5 Things to Look For from an Aircraft Cleaning Company

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5 Things to Look For from an Aircraft Cleaning Company

This is a post by guest author Stephen Clark, Marketing Manager of Immaculate Flight, LLC. Stephen was asked to contribute to this blog because of his expertise in aircraft cleaning. Any thoughts expressed below are entirely Stephen’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc.

You’ve just survived the longest flight of your life, full of rowdy children, adults hard at work, and never-ending turbulence. Peering back from the flight deck, you see the carnage as the passengers unload: A jelly stain on the carpet, finger prints everywhere, and you’re pretty sure someone smoked onboard the flight as well. To make matters worse, you exit your aircraft waving goodbye to your passengers, only to find that Mother Nature has done her finest on your windscreen and fuselage.

Unfortunately, the last thing you want to do is spend another two hours wiping down the mess, so you digress into the FBO, pleading for assistance in cleaning your aircraft. But before you lay your head down and drift off from the busy day, have you thought about who and what is cleaning your aircraft that night?

More often than not, airports have a wide array of aircraft cleaning companies available. Many are small operations that include FBO line personnel, young adults making a few extra bucks, and established professional operators. In addition, many markets have car or boat cleaning companies providing services.

What should stand out is the confusing choice available to you: Do you go with the FBO line personnel or find a professional company to clean your aircraft? Here are five tips in what to look for from an aircraft cleaning company, whether on the road or at your home airport:

1. Insurance, Insurance, Insurance

Thanks to aircraft getting more and more expensive, insurance represents one of the largest costs for aircraft cleaning companies. Sadly, however, many companies still carry no insurance or less-than-acceptable coverage(s) to protect your aircraft in the event of an accident during cleaning. Broken static wicks, hanger rash, etc. are all unfortunate accidents that happen; however, damage becomes an even bigger issue when you’re saddled with the cost of the repairs because your cleaning “company” isn’t properly insured!

The root issue is that many owners and even some flight departments still maintain the belief that cleaning isn’t a maintenance function, and as such look for the lowest cost option to fulfill their needs. However, anyone who’s had an aircraft damaged by under- or un-insured parties knows that any cost savings you’ve made in hiring that person (or company) can result in thousands or millions of dollars in loss. Sadly, there are too many stories of static port blockage, ladders falling on aircraft, and even severed winglets, to show how important proper insurance is.
When searching for a person (or company) to clean your aircraft, keep in mind that you should find a company that has at least $5 million in liability AND hangar keepers insurance to protect your aircraft. Anything less and you could expose yourself to paying out of pocket if something happens.

In addition, if you’re a fleet operator and plan on utilizing the same company often, ask the cleaning company to place your fleet on their insurance policy, and have them provide you with a copy for your records.

2. Wings only

Would you have a car mechanic work on your aircraft’s engines? Probability not, so make sure your chosen company focuses solely on aircraft cleaning. Although many car and boat cleaning companies dabble in aircraft cleaning, they may lack practice on current techniques and practices applicable to aircraft, since they’re not in the business to clean just aircraft. In addition, some companies use the same chemicals on cars and boats as they would on your plane (a big no-no)! Therefore, unless a company has a dedicated aviation division, ask for one that deals with aircraft only!

3. Get a written quote

As with any service to your aircraft, be sure you get a written quote that displays your aircraft’s tail number along with the proposed services. If you’re a large aircraft operator, be sure to ask if the company requires lifts to reach high spots, and make sure they’re correctly quoted on your document if needed.

4. Your plane’s unique

And as such, be sure to check with the cleaning company to make sure they’re utilizing the chemicals approved for your aircraft. If you’ve ever wondered what is/isn’t approved, have a look through your aircraft’s operating manual for the answer. This step is also a great time to inform the cleaning company of any areas of concern you have (that jelly stain, smoke odor, etc.) to be sure your needs are taken care of the first time.

5. Start a relationship

As with any service, a relationship with a vendor can produce not only discounted pricing, but include outstanding perks. This is especially important if you operate multiple aircraft or need cleaning services more frequently. Many times, you’ll find cost savings by having a professional cleaning company take care of your aircraft because of reduced wear and tear on interior items and exterior surfaces, including expensive paint!

Conclusion

Finding a way to keep your aircraft spotless shouldn’t be a burden; however, you should remain mindful of who you use to do it. By utilizing the tips above, and with a bit of research, you’re well on your way to having the best-looking aircraft on the ramp!

Questions?

If you have any questions about this article, contact me at sclark@immaculateflight.com.

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About

Stephen Clark is a marketing manager for Immaculate Flight, a United States-based aircraft detailing corporation. Stephen has more than six years’ of aviation experience and has spent time working and supporting business aviation operations, including travel planning, security and ground asset procurement. Additionally, Stephen has experience with onsite coordination in support of VIP and athletic teams, Part 121 operations management and Load Master and Deice Instructor qualifications. In his free time, Stephen, who has a bachelor’s of science degree in Aviation Science from Utah Valley University, volunteers as a wing leader with Angel Flight West, a nonprofit organization that provides free air transportation in response to medical and other compelling human needs.

Stephen can be reached at sclark@immaculateflight.com.

This guest author’s views are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc.

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