Keeping aircraft clean inside and out is more detrimental to flight safety and efficiency than most people realize. In fact, neglecting proper cleaning procedures can have serious consequences, such as leading to corrosion and vital part malfunctions. From general surface cleaning to specific part cleaning, there are a wide variety of materials that help in carrying out such tasks on the market. For your understanding, we will further break these materials down into five categories: solvent cleaners, emulsion cleaners, soaps and detergent cleaners, mechanical cleaning materials, and chemical cleaners. This blog will explore the options under each category as well as their specific purposes.
Solvent cleaners are used to wipe down a variety of surfaces, including both painted and unpainted materials depending on which solvent you purchase. In general, all solvent cleaners should have a flashpoint no less than 105 degrees and should be used with precaution. Some are flammable and many are toxic, so the SDS for each solvent must be consulted prior to use. Protective measures often include the use of gloves, respirators, and face shields. One example of a solvent cleaner is dry cleaning solvent, that of which is the most common petroleum base solvent used in aircraft cleaning and can be used to remove greases and oils. Meanwhile, dry cleaning solvent leaves residue behind which can interfere with paint films. On the other hand, aliphatic naphtha is recommended for cleaning surfaces prior to painting, while aromatic naphtha is toxic and attacks acrylics.
Safety solvent, or methyl chloroform, does not require the same level of precaution as other solvent cleaners and it is nonflammable, but use of safety precautions as instructed is always necessary. Another available cleaner is Methyl Ethyl Ketone, or MEK, which is good for cleaning metals and stripping paint. Many solvents can work in tandem with kerosene, in order to soften heavy preservative coatings. Lastly, solvent cleaners include the compounds used to clean oxygen systems and are either anhydrous (waterless) ethyl alcohol or isopropyl (anti-icing fluid) alcohol so as not to leave a film behind.
Emulsion cleaners are compounds used for general aircraft cleaning for both painted and unpainted surfaces, and they are particularly useful in the removal of heavy deposits, such as carbon, grease, oil, or tar. You can purchase either solvent or water emulsion compounds for different purposes. Water emulsion compounds are materials available under Specification MIL-C-22543A and can also be used on fluorescent materials. Solvent emulsion cleaners can be either nonphenolic or phenolic. Nonphenolic cleaners can be used on painted surfaces, but they can soften nitrocellulose lacquers. On the other hand, phenolic cleaners are better and more effective for heavy-duty applications, but they can damage nonmetal surfaces.
For more mild cleaning, one can purchase soaps and detergent cleaners. Of the different options under this category, Specification MIL-C-5410 Type I and II materials are best for general use on all surfaces, including painted, unpainted, fabric, leather, and clear plastic surfaces. Another option is to use nonionic detergent cleaners, those of which can be either water-soluble or oil-soluble. These types of cleaners are ideal for removing heavy preservative coatings.
Mechanical cleaning materials include products used for the removal of debris and can be mild or abrasive. They can be used alongside cleansers or on their own depending on the application. For example, nonwoven pads can be used on their own on metals to remove layers of light corrosive products. Abrasive papers should also be used on their own, but they are much rougher on surfaces and should be used selectively. Other options include powdered pumice, aluminum wool, and aluminum metal polish.
Lastly, chemical cleaners must be used carefully when cleaning aircraft as they can be corrosive if not removed in full. Phosphoric-citric acid is a relatively universal chemical cleaner, while baking soda should be used specifically to neutralize acid deposits in lead-acid battery compartments and to treat acid burns from chemical cleaners and inhibitors.
Oils, grease, debris, and countless additional unwanted materials build up quickly during routine operations of aircraft, so proper cleaning procedures are essential. With a vast selection of products on the market, Methodical Purchasing has what you need. Owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we boast access to an ever-expanding inventory of over 2 billion items, so explore our database today. Then, kick-off the procurement process for any item by submitting a Request for Quote form with as much detail as possible, including desired quantities, target prices, and shipping deadlines. Within 15 minutes, our team of experts will contact you with a personalized quote on your item. For further inquiries, we are available around-the-clock to answer your calls or emails, 24/7x365!
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