Polishing an aircraft may not sound like rocket science, but there are a few things…
When the winter’s over and a new season begins, it’s time to think about ways to keep your brightwork and airplane metals corrosion-free. While it’s tempting to avoid the extra time and hard work it takes to keep your brightwork in top condition, it’s not the wisest choice. Doing so can cause major problems down the line, and sometimes those issues create irreversible damage.
Battling Aircraft Corrosion
When you own or operate an aircraft, you know that battling corrosion can be one of the most time-consuming, absolutely necessary tasks. It’s necessary because corrosion has a frustrating way of getting out of hand if it’s not stopped early.
Corrosion is a peculiar and touchy aspect of owning an aircraft. It’s caused by wear and tear, which is pretty much unavoidable with most working planes, but other factors may be involved as well. Weather is a significant cause of corrosion, especially in humid and wet climates. Any type of continued exposure to moisture can easily tarnish a neglected plane and become a huge hassle to correct.
Other causes of corrosion vary. Moisture is not the only source of corrosion as sometimes it’s caused by chemical reactions. Rust is perhaps the most well-known form of corrosion that comes as a result of chemical reaction. Beyond this, friction may also cause corrosion. Also, a weakened portion of metal with decreased durability is more susceptible to corrosion if left neglected.
Safety Risks and Seasonal Changes
Corrosion can be a safety risk if not properly guarded against. It can definitely make an already weak place in the metal surface more weak. It may also grind away at metal surfaces until there are holes or until the metal begins fretting. At this point, the aircraft is in serious need of attention in order to prevent safety risks.
In the spring, the change of season may bring on an increased risk of corrosion. Increased rain and thunderstorms in the spring, depending on you local climate, should definitely be factored into your aircraft maintenance regimen. Also, high humidity and air pressure may mean higher concentrations of pollutants and chemical in the air. Make sure your aircraft is protected as the seasons change to guard against unnecessary exposure to corrosives.
That said, here are five ways to make sure your brightwork makes it through the spring season corrosion-free.
1: Check in regularly
One of the best ways to prevent corrosion is to regularly inspect your aircraft for early signs of corrosion or wear and tear that may lead to corrosion. Both private and commercial aircraft must regularly be inspected. In fact, the FAA requires most types of planes to be inspected every 100 hours and annually.
Beyond this, basic aircraft inspection techniques can help move things along. Check with your manufacturer to determine the basic progressive inspection plan. A progressive inspection plan allows for less maintenance downtime and can be completed over a cycle of short inspection phases. This gives a nice framework for routine and ongoing inspections, keeping them thorough and efficient.
2: Keep things clean
Another great way to keep corrosion contained is to ensure that your aircraft remains clean and free of debris and contaminants. Spring is a time of tremendous weather changes – including lots of rainfall and strong wind gusts depending on where you’re flying. That means spring presents an even greater chance that your aircraft will need regular cleaning and debris removal.
Your regular inspections will help keep tabs on areas of your aircraft in need of touch ups and light cleaning. Check specifically for those areas that tend to collect the most dirt and debris such as the underbelly and the underparts of the fuselage. Also be sure to keep moving parts and engines clean and free of dirt and grime.
3: Tackle moisture
There may be no foolproof way to keep a plane completely free of moisture – especially during the spring months. However, keeping a plane as moisture-free as possible is definitely an excellent way to keep corrosion from ruining brightwork and other metal surfaces.
Nuisance moisture, as it is often termed, can occur both outside and inside the plane. The former from respiration of passengers and the latter from condensation on the plane’s surface.
The truth is that most aircraft owners will be faced with moisture-related problems on a regular basis, and there are several ways to address this.
To combat nuisance moisture, check that drainage sources are in top condition, and in your inspections, be on the lookout for dripping and areas where water tends to gather. Locating the sources of these issues can lead to the end of moisture-related problems. In addition, it may be worth it to invest in a moisture control system for aircraft with recurring moisture issues.
4: Choose the best polish
Owning an aircraft often means making wise decisions about the type of aircraft metal polish you use on your plane. If the wrong polish causes issues, these may lead to serious damage to your plane and it can also lead to corrosion taking over.
A good aircraft metal polish should have the ability to address corrosion, tarnish and all forms of oxidation thoroughly. Check for a versatile polish with the ability to address a variety of metal surface issues. This will ensure that no matter what the problem, your metal polish can help with the solution.
5: Protect for unnecessary exposure to corrosive elements
Last but not least, corrosion can be avoided when owners protect against exposure to corrosive elements. This may mean taking extra precaution to keep aircraft in the hangar at all times when not in flight. It may also mean making sure your aircraft metal polish has a lasting effect that both shines and protects your plane for months after application.