Home-EditorialsAircraft Detailing and Protection, A Comprehensive Review

Aircraft Detailing and Protection, A Comprehensive Review

The upkeep of an aircraft is a crucial task that requires attention to detail and a comprehensive understanding of the different variables involved. The washing of the plane not only ensures aesthetic appeal but also enhances the performance and longevity of the aircraft.
Paint correction and high-quality protection like industrial ceramic coating play a crucial role in safeguarding the aircraft’s exterior from various elements, including UV rays, harsh weather conditions, and environmental pollutants. A well-maintained paint job significantly reduces the acceleration of corrosion associated with our industry; look for a certified aviation detailer and ask how your aircraft will be protected. Use the previous articles to keep your aircraft in its best condition and get the most longevity in your investment. We have summarized our articles into critical points.

We want to extend a BIG thank you to Ag Air Update for their support over this time, allowing us to share this information with all of you, and finally, our clients over the years for their trust. Without you, none of this would be possible.

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Washing Key Points:
1. Never wash the aircraft in direct sunlight as this will lead to quick drying, and depending on your water, mineral content can form mineral deposits on aircraft; given enough repetitions, this can soak deeply into your aircraft paint and may only be removed by heavy polishing, chemical treatment or worse permanent staining and required professional detailing services.

2. Follow the soap manufacturer’s instructions for diluting the wash soap appropriately. Check the MSDS always; a quick, simple reading will save hours working to pay for that new paint job.


3. Use foaming soap with a Foam Gun (for garden hose) or Foam Cannon (for pressure washer) to apply the wash soap. Allow a few minutes for the bugs to soak, then follow up by scrubbing with a soft bristle brush, a two-bucket wash method.

4. Be careful about your brush scrubbing; realize your body is a pendulum, and often, without thinking, we press at the bottom of the action and relieve pressure as the brush extends further up the wing. Look at the flaps and see heavy scratching. You may have developed this habit, or the brush clogs and scratches the surface.

5. An inline water filter can be purchased usually for less than a hundred dollars or a little more. It has enough flow to supply a pressure washer or garden hose and will minimize mineral deposits.

6. Wash as often as you can. A quick foam application with wash soap and pressure wash will neutralize the most contamination, leading to easier cleaning. The more buildup and longer the bugs bake, the more applications will be required to reach below the contamination layer, or the more aggressive soap or patience will be needed to remove the bugs and chemicals.
Please see the October 2023 issue for more information.

Microfiber Towels Key Points:

Option A: Look for neutral-scented, non-colored, zero phosphate wash soap, often natural or organic label. These can be purchased at your local supercenter or online.

Option B: Look online for specialized microfiber cleaner packets. These come at a slightly higher cost per unit, provide guidelines for soiling level and dilution ratio, and provide the best opportunity to rejuvenate the towel.

Microfiber Drying:

Air drying is the best method for microfiber towels. Excessive heat can damage the fibers, making them stiff and leading to scratches/marks in your paint and windows. If using a dryer, opt for low or no heat settings. Do not use drier sheets as they can leave residue/protectant on the towel, making it lose its absorbency and may repel future protective coatings or dirt, leading to more scrubbing.

Please see the November 2023 issue for more information on microfiber care.

Polishing and Paint Correction Key Points:

1. Thorough Cleaning: Begin by washing and decontaminating the paint surface to remove dirt, grime, and any loose particles that may further damage the paint with abrasion. After washing, the clay bar may be used with specific wash soaps in a detailed spray formulation to remove surface contamination.

We suggest medium-grade clay towels as they are generally larger, more durable, and have fabric on the back for wiping/wetting the surface.


2. Paint Correction: Use an abrasive compound Like IGL F1-F3 series to remove the oxidized layer, restoring the paint’s shine and color. If done correctly, this process will provide the best surface for adhesion with the protection of sealant and wax or ceramic coating. Being too aggressive and using improper polishing methods may permanently damage the paint. While not polishing enough will leave contamination and oxidation on the surface, vastly degrading the ability to protect the surface.


3. Ongoing Maintenance: Regularly washing the aircraft is the best procedure/care for the paint.

Please See the January 2024 Issue for more information on Paint Polishing.

Corrosion Key Points:

Corrosion inhibitors like zinc chromate primer have been implemented to provide protection; you will often notice this process by a green color below the paint surface. Factories like Thrush Aircraft have made this standardized process. Air Tractor has chosen electromagnetic protection using the cathode/anode approach. Both systems have advantages and disadvantages.

Please See the February 2024 issue for more information.


Paint Protection: Preserving your investment Key Points
Carnauba Wax: Carnauba wax is derived from the leaves of the Brazilian palm tree and is great for many applications, often suggested for aircraft like Cirrus, made from carbon fiber or synthetic materials.

Hybrid Wax: Hybrid waxes combine the benefits of both carnauba wax and synthetic polymer wax. They provide a slightly faster application and easier removal of application while still providing natural gloss and shine.

Paint sealants offer a longer-lasting solution compared to traditional wax. These sealants are made of synthetic polymers. Most are rated at 6-month protection with proper Ph Neutral wash soaps.

Ceramic Coatings
This nanotechnology creates a molecular bond with the substrate, forming a thin, almost zero-weight layer over the paint that is much stronger than traditional waxes and sealants and is designed to handle the chemicals used daily in aerial applications. Not all ceramic coatings are created the same look for a certified aircraft detailer specializing in agricultural/Industrial ceramic coating.

Advanced Technology
Graphene has been making its way into the market in recent years. Clear coating systems like IGL Coatings Aegis 15-year rated, hydrophobic, self-cleaning, C5 corrosion rated, 6000-hour salt spray test is implemented and brought to the market; corrosion may be slowed and discussion for history books. Frontline Detail, who attends continuing education training in ceramic coating, can install these products with specific guidelines for aerial application aircraft. If you want to learn more or have questions, book a consultation with Frontline Detail at www.frontlinedetailusa.com.







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