When an aircraft interior is new or newly refurbished, it is easy to take it for granted. However, to keep your interior looking new, you have to make sure it is properly maintained from the day you take delivery. Maintaining your aircraft interior from the early stages can help extend its life and reduce costs of future refurbishments.
Knowledge is Power
The first thing you need to consider is that you will need to be fully aware of the manufacturers of the materials in your aircraft and what they recommend for cleaning their products. The information about the material manufacturers should be readily available from whoever completed or refurbished the interior.
Knowing what you can and cannot use on a material is the most critical component of keeping your interior in the best shape possible. For instance, many dyes and chemicals in leathers can have adverse chemical reactions to certain products. Unfortunately, if you happen to accidentally use the wrong type of product and it doesn’t work, there is little that can be done to fix it.
Take special precautions when attempting to clean a re-dyed seat. While a reputable shop will get to the bottom layer of the leather before dying a seat, you may run into seats that have been re-dyed multiple times that have a sticky or nappy feel. When attempting to clean a re-dyed seat, especially one that has been re-dyed many times, make sure to start in an inconspicuous area.
When undergoing a refurbishment, you can request a stain blocking treatment to be applied by the company that is applying fire retardant to your materials. This can help save you time and headaches down the road by making stains easier to remove.
A common troublesome stain you might see, and one we are most commonly asked about, is ink marks. Ink marks are easier to treat on fabric as the porous materials can allow you to have multiple treatments to "push" the ink through the fabric. On non-porous materials like some ultra leathers, if you can’t get out the ink mark out with the first treatment, it will never come out.
Regardless of the stain, it is critically important to understand what kind of stain it is. The makeup of the stain will determine how it is treated. By knowing what kind of stain you are treating, you are able to choose the right type of cleaner. If the type of stain you are dealing with requires a chemical cleaner, let the chemical do all of the work when treating it. Otherwise you run the risk of making it worse.
As with other components of your interior, when dealing with cleaning your carpet, consult your carpet manufacturer on what types of chemicals are safe in treating your carpet. Unapproved chemicals can interfere with the flammability characteristics in your carpet. For tough stains, carpet stain extractors are available. Just make sure whatever you are using is approved by your carpet manufacturer.
For woodwork, whatever cleaning component you use should be based on the material makeup of your top-coat. Generally, polyurethane will not need much cleaning but, if you are using a chemical, be very sure that it is approved by the manufacturer as there are different blends of polyurethane. If your aircraft woodwork is laminate, most household cleaners should be okay to use.
Properly maintaining your aircraft interior starts with knowing what you can use to clean your material. Get your information from the manufacturers as to what is approved for use and make yourself a "cheat sheet" to keep with your aircraft documents. Keeping your interior clean will ensure you get the most life possible with the least amount of headaches.
Adam Doyle joined Elliott Aviation in 2000 as an interior technician after graduating from Wyoming Technical Institute. While at Elliott Aviation, Adam has earned many different promotions on the shop floor including Install Team Lead, Soft Goods Team Lead, Assistant Interior Shop Manager and Seat Shop Manager. Adam’s most recent promotion has been to Paint and Interior Sales Representative for Elliott Aviation. He uses his experience with various vendors, products and processes to educate our clients by providing direction and helping plan for future investment with realistic and accurate figures.
Elliott Aviation is a second-generation, family-owned business aviation company offering a complete menu of high quality products and services including aircraft sales, avionics service & installations, aircraft maintenance, accessory repair & overhaul, paint and interior, charter and aircraft management. Serving the business aviation industry nationally and internationally, they have facilities in Moline, IL, Des Moines, IA, and Minneapolis, MN. The company is a member of the Pinnacle Air Network, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and National Aircraft Resale Association (NARA). More information can be found at www.elliottaviation.com