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Airplane Detailing: Why and How to Protect Your Investment

Let’s face it, a private aircraft of any size represents major investment not just in the initial purchase, but the ongoing maintenance as well. What may surprise some people is actually how many similarities there are in the worlds of airplane and car detailing. In this blog, we’re offering up a guide to why and how you should invest in mobile detailing for an aircraft, and how the job gets done best.

Mobile Detailing - Airplane Vs. Car: Surprisingly Similar

Overall, there are a lot of similarities when looking at auto detailing services and those designed for aircraft. There are many areas in which detailing products and techniques aren’t just similar, but actually quite interchangeable.

wings mobile detailing airplane detailing


When cleaning the exterior, many of the best automotive mobile detailing products from brands like Chemical Guys are equally effective. The only difference might be in the quantity you require to get the job done. Chemical Guys do make great ph-balanced soaps that are ideal for the cleaning of aircraft exteriors. What’s more, you might need a stronger delivery system like a soap/foam cannon to ensure that the soap gets everywhere you need it. Of course, you can also do a rinseless wash.

The painted surface of an aircraft is actually very similar in nature to that of a car. It starts with primer, then is made up of its base coat, and finished with clear coat. The only common difference is that aircraft might well have stripes or a two-tone color pattern depending on the make and style of plane. This may take a little bit of extra care depending on whether the stripes are painted on differently or not.

As with cars, paint protection is also a key step for keeping an aircraft looking its best. Minor paint imperfections can be corrected easily enough with a simple polish and waxing job to restore the shine. Any more significant damage can be corrected using the same three-stage paint correction process that auto detailers would use on a car: compound, polish, and then polish again.

If the tires need attention, then you can use a similar tire dressing to that used in car detailing, but only use it on the tire walls. Avoid getting anything on the tire treads. Wheel cleaners are also helpful, using aluminum-friendly products with a built-in sealant if possible.

wings mobile detailing airplane detailing


The exterior of a plane will usually need detailing even less frequently than cars do, but interiors tend to need more attention more often, especially if the plane is frequently used. Aircraft interiors are actually home to many of the same materials that you would see on a car detailing job: carpets and fabric upholstery, possibly leather seating, some coated wooden or other finished surfaces or trims about the place.

General, non-corrosive vehicle interior cleaning agents work just as well on planes as they do in cars. For leather surfaces, you might want to condition them and add protection to keep them looking stunning and offering maximum comfort to passengers. A sturdy vacuum cleaner is also a welcome ally, but do not listen to anyone who recommends vacuumable cleaning powders to use on aircraft. They may appear to work well initially, but over time you just end up working powder particles into the carpet, causing it to lose its luster.

The cockpit is invariably an area with many buttons, dials and other controls. To clean this area, stick with non-corrosive cleaning agents for the surfaces, but use a soft-bristled fine detailing brush for the areas around the buttons. This will deliver the best results.

wings mobile detailing airplane detailing


As we have mentioned, plane detailing may not be required as frequently as that of a car. A plane owner might only detail the exterior twice a year, but the interior will likely need attention sooner. Washing alone doesn’t offer any proper protection to the paint, which in turn leads to it dulling and losing its luster. A detailing job means the exterior paint is getting the protection it needs.

So, consider an exterior mobile detailing service at least twice a year, and perhaps double that for the interior, increasing the frequency along with how often the plane is used and how many passengers use it.


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