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Preventing Airframe Damage During Aircraft Washing

A new “plug-and-play” system aims to solve the challenges that come with traditional means of aircraft washing.

Riveer has released a new “plug-and-play” aircraft wash system that it says will solve concerns about damage to the airframe from water and soap. The electric hot water foam and rinse system, called Wingman, is designed for in-hangar washing of fixed wing and rotary aircraft.

According to Jeff Rowan, Riveer Environmental’s director of military programs, Wingman is ideal for commercial and military aircraft MRO thanks to its built-in combination of water temperature and pressure.

“Using hot water and lots of it allows for efficient soap removal. One of the biggest corrosion concerns we see is soap residue left on airframes,” explains Rowan. “Usually too much soap is used and any soap left on the airframe will dry and rehydrate from ambient moisture, causing a corrosive solution. Removing all of the soap during a wash cycle is paramount.”

Rowan says that getting hot water inside aircraft hangars has proved challenging for MROs because many current systems use an open flame and heating coal to heat water, which means the flame needs to be exhausted through the roof or the system needs to be placed outdoors. Wingman uses the 480-volt, three phase outlets currently found in many hangars combined with a high-efficiency electric boiler to provide hot water.

riveer-wingman-2.jpgThe system also avoids spraying water at more than 175 psi due to risks of damage to the aircraft itself. “Unfortunately, many of the means used to wash aircraft today are harmful to the airframe,” says Rowan, adding that too much pressure can allow water intrusion into unwanted areas such as hydraulic seals, paint laps, avionics panels and equipment mounts. “Volume, not pressure, is the key to a proper aircraft wash,” he says.

Wingman comes standard with a high-efficiency electric boiler, two hot water guns and a high-volume foam system, as well as computer controls to protect the boiler, pumps and compressor. The system’s standard footprint is 10 ft. long by 6 ft. wide by 9 ft. high and Rowan says it requires no hangar modification for fast installation and start up. Because Riveer does its design and manufacturing in-house, it can customize the system to specific requirements.

Rowan says Riveer has shipped several Wingman systems to military customers, which are using it. “Momentum is building for this type of system in hangars, “he says. “We look forward to connecting with MRO and FBO customers in the future.”

Riveer is finalizing a commercial package for Wingman and says it will have a published price soon.

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