How long does it take to wash a small Cessna plane? Aircraft Cleaning 101

Many people are still out of work, and the other day when I was in Wichita, KS, I noticed that the general aviation manufacturing capital of the world was still suffering quite a bit. When discussing this with a local Starbucks, he mentioned that he had been fired for quite some time. It appears that President Obama made some disparaging remarks about CEOs flying corporate jets and literally overnight, used corporate jet sales plummeted even worse than before, and corporate jet orders simply they stopped as if they had hit a brick wall.

We started talking, mostly talks about hangars, airplanes and flight stories, he said he would like to start an aviation type business, but he did not know what to do. Since he had created a rather nice airplane cleaning business previously, he asked; “How long does it take to wash a small Cessna or similar plane?”

Good question and my answer was this. For exterior washing, a person with a 5.0 hp pressure washer can clean, remove bugs, wipe the windshield, and degrease the belly of a C-152 in about 15-20 minutes if washed weekly. A Corvalis a few minutes faster as it is a low wing, but not much faster because it is a four-seater.

For interiors, it is important whether it is a plane from a private owner or a rental. The interiors of FBO flight schools, clubs and aircraft take longer due to the number of flights and people who do not own the aircraft that flies it. Private owners pretty quickly as you can use a quick portable dust remover, clean the dash, detail the instrument panel, and spray plastic, leather, and vinyl doors and interior.

In fact, I’d say 5 minutes, a bit longer than a car due to tight spaces and difficulty getting around inside. Add in an extra 5 minutes for flight school planes, they really get messy, especially when food gets between the seat tracks and the like.

Big money in airplane cleaning really is the corporate jet market, but until things drastically improve, I did mention that I would have a hard time. But you could still get it right detailing light aircraft, single engine jobs, as not all aircraft owners were in for a rough time, it really depends on where their money is coming from and what type of business they are in. “Aircraft washing is hard work,” I said, “make no mistake about it.” If you are considering starting an aircraft cleaning service, you might consider all of this.

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