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Aircraft Maintenance: Disinfecting aircraft to protect against COVID-19

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, we recently launched a weekly webinar program called “SocialFlight Live!” where we communicate helpful information to pilots during this critical time.

Image courtesy of Jeff Simon.

One of the first guests was Mark Rubin, president of New England Aircraft Detailing. Mark has been on the forefront of disinfecting general aviation aircraft, many of which are being used for lifesaving missions during the crisis.

As one can imagine, proper disinfection of aircraft is critical to the safety of both the flight crews and passengers. As more personal GA aircraft are being pressed into service transporting first responders and supplies, the cleaning agents and procedures used by professionals should also be implemented by the rest of us in our flying.

The FAA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that air carriers and crewmembers take precautions to avoid exposure to COVID-19. A full list of these precautions can be found in SAFO 20003, COVID-19: Interim Health Guidance for Air Carriers and Crews. The CDC has also provided recommendations for aircraft operators to clean and disinfect aircraft. The National Business Aviation Association and committee volunteers have summarized this information in an easy-to-use resource that will help you make aircraft cleaning decisions.

According to Rubin, the good news is that not only are products available that can effectively disinfect an aircraft, but there are also products available that provide a protective antiviral coating on surfaces that lasts for up to two weeks, according to the product manufacturers. These products are not necessarily easy to obtain during the crisis, but they can be found with some effort.

Zip-Chem Calla® 1452 Neutral Disinfectant Cleaner

According to Zip-Chem, “Calla® 1452 meets the requirements of AMS 1452, AMS 1530, AMS 1453, AMS 1550, Boeing D6-7127, and D6-17487. The Calla® 1452 Neutral Disinfectant Cleaner is a phosphate-free formulation that is designed to provide effective cleaning, deodorizing, and disinfecting. This product, when used as directed, is formulated to disinfect hard, non-porous, and inanimate environmental surfaces. These surfaces include glazed ceramic tile, plastic surfaces, floors, walls, metal surfaces, stainless steel surfaces, and glazed porcelain. Calla® 1452 does not stain aircraft interiors and plastics.”

Bacoban for Aerospace—Disinfectant and Protectant

Bacoban is an antibacterial and antiviral disinfectant that, according to the manufacturer, has the additional benefit of providing 10 days of continuous disinfection via a sol-gel process that develops a solid gel nano layer. It is available in spray bottles or in a fogger/atomizer solution.

Zep Aviation RTU Cleaner/Disinfectant

This product is a “ready-to-use, non-streaking cleaner and disinfectant for aircraft interior, exterior surfaces including aircraft windows. Aviation Specs: Boeing D6-17487, Boeing D6-7127, AMS 1452A and AMS 1550B, ASTM F 519 Zep Aviation RTU Cleaner Disinfectant (EPA Reg. # 6836-152-1270) has demonstrated effectiveness against viruses similar to 2019 Novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) on hard non-porous surfaces. Therefore, Zep Aviation RTU Cleaner Disinfectant can be used against SARS-CoV-2 when used in accordance with the directions for use against Norovirus on hard, non-porous surfaces.”

Sani-Cide EX3

Sani-Cide EX3 is “an EPA registered broad-spectrum disinfectant and multi-purpose cleaner. It offers a safe and effective approach to the disinfection of a variety of surfaces throughout the aircraft while cleaning multi-soils leaving behind a clean, streak and haze free surface.”

When cleaning your airplane, it’s critical to clean all touch surfaces thoroughly, which is just about everywhere within the tight confines of the average GA aircraft. Pay special attention to every handle, knob, touch screen, yoke, belt buckle, and control that is touched in routine use; inside and outside the aircraft. And don’t forget the headsets. As a precaution, headsets should be thoroughly cleaned after use and never shared without thorough disinfection. Current medical guidance is that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive for days, possibly weeks, on some surfaces. Therefore, consider keeping your headset with you, and packing away shared headsets in separate cases with the date of last use if they are to be used by passengers. Refer to the CDC website for additional information.

As pilots, we are always looking for ways to assist in a time of need. If you have the opportunity to provide assistance during the crisis, please follow the safety guidelines and laws of your local government and take every precaution to protect your health and the health of others. As we learn more, I will continue to provide information on the weekly SocialFlight Live! broadcast. You can visit the website to register and ask questions during the program. You can also view previous programs on SocialFlight’s YouTube channel.

I hope you and your families remain safe and healthy, and I wish you blue skies.

Jeff Simon

Jeff Simon

Jeff Simon is an A&P mechanic, IA, pilot, and aircraft owner. He has spent the last 22 years promoting owner-assisted aircraft maintenance and created the first inspection tool for geared alternator couplings available at Jeff is also the creator of SocialFlight, the free mobile app and website that maps more than 20,000 aviation events, hundred-dollar hamburger destinations, and also offers educational aviation videos. Free apps are available for iOS and Android devices, and users can also visit
Topics: Aircraft Maintenance, Ownership, COVID19
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