May 21, 2020

GA Aircraft Disinfecting Tips


About two months ago, near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we published an article on this topic, written by COPA eFlight contributor Phil Lightstone. Now, as flight schools and flying clubs begin to open up across the country, many members who weren’t flying back then are now requesting advice from COPA on how to disinfect aircraft being used by other people.

Since we published Phil’s article there have been a variety of documents published by various agencies and organizations, both domestic and international, discussing disinfecting suggestions, and we’ve pulled a few tips from them to list below.

Even though knowledge on how the coronavirus is transmitted is still growing, it is known to be transmissible via bodily fluids. Therefore, interior surfaces of an aircraft can be contaminated from a person sneezing, coughing or otherwise expelling droplets into the air while inside. Therefore, most surfaces should be disinfected by wiping them with a solution containing at least 60 percent isopropyl alcohol (IPA) mixed with water. It is recommended that a solution with only 50 percent IPA be used on instrument panels.

There are strong recommendations on what not to do, as doing so can spread the virus or damage aircraft materials:

  • Do not use compressed air, steamer or pressure washers;
  • Do not use a vacuum cleaner to begin the cleaning process, as the machine’s exhaust can spread the virus;
  • Do not use an ionizer. Although effective on organic material, it will also have a detrimental effect on rubber, plastics and leather;
  • Do not use hydrogen peroxide due to its detrimental effect on leather, acrylic material and polycarbonate windows;
  • Do not share headsets.

Conversely, the following tips should be considered:

  • Do encourage passengers accompanying you to use non-medical face masks if they are not required to speak through a headset;
  • Do go through disinfecting procedures both before and after the aircraft’s use to account for it not being done by a prior or subsequent user;
  • Do use microfibre cloths when cleaning instrument faces to avoid scratching them;
  • Do use gloves when performing a pre-flight inspection.

Stay healthy, fly safely and enjoy blue skies!

Image credit: iStock/kudou