Many people are still out of work, and the other day when I was in Wichita, KS I did note that the general aviation manufacturing capital of the world was hurting pretty bad still. When discussing this with a local at Starbucks there, he stated he'd been laid off for quite some time. It seems that President Obama made some derogatory remarks about CEOs flying around corporate jets, and literally over night used corporate jet aircraft sales tanked even worse than before, and corporate jet orders just stopped like they hit a brick wall.
We got to talking, mostly hangar talk, airplanes and flying stories, he said he'd like to start an aviation type business but did not know what he should do. Since, I'd previously built up a rather nice aircraft cleaning business, he asked; “How Long Does it Take to Wash a Small Cessna Aircraft, or similar plane?”
Good question and my answer was this. For exterior washing, one person with a 5.0 hp pressure washer can clean, remove bugs, clean windscreen, and degrease the belly of a C-152 in about 15-20 minutes if it is washed weekly. A Corvalis a few minutes faster since it is a low wing, but not much faster because it is a four-seater.
For interiors, well it matters if it is a private owner's plane, or a rental. Interiors for Flight School, Clubs, and FBO aircraft take longer due to the number of flights and people who do not own the aircraft flying it. Private owners quite quickly, as you can use a quick dust buster portable, wipe down the dash, detail out the instrument panel and pump-spray bottle the doors and interior plastic, leather and vinyl.
Indeed, I'd say 5-minutes, a little longer than a car due to the tight quarters and difficulty moving around inside. Add an additional 5-minutes for flight school aircraft, they really get messy, especially as food items get between the seat tracks and things like that.
The big money in cleaning aircraft really is the corporate jet market, but until things drastically improve, I mentioned he'd have a tough go of it. But he could still do well detailing light aircraft, single engine jobs, as not all aircraft owners were in tough times, it really depends on where their money is coming from and the type of business they are in. “Aircraft washing is hard work,” I said “make no mistake about that.” If you are considering starting an aircraft cleaning service, sometimes you will consider all this.