Career Development

What Does an Aircraft Cleaner Do?

Find out what an Aircraft Cleaner does, how to get this job, salary information, and what it takes to succeed as an Aircraft Cleaner.

The role of an Aircraft Cleaner encompasses maintaining the cleanliness and presentation of aircraft interiors, ensuring a pleasant travel environment for passengers. This position involves a meticulous approach to detail and a commitment to upholding health and safety standards. By performing tasks such as vacuuming carpets, wiping down surfaces, and sanitizing restrooms, Aircraft Cleaners play an integral part in enhancing the overall passenger experience. Their work not only contributes to the aesthetic appeal of the aircraft but also supports operational efficiency by preparing planes for timely departures. Through their efforts, Aircraft Cleaners help airlines maintain their reputation for cleanliness and service excellence, making them an essential component of the aviation industry’s customer service and operational teams.

Aircraft Cleaner Job Duties

  • Clean and sanitize all cabin surfaces, including seats, tray tables, overhead bins, and galleys, using approved cleaning agents.
  • Vacuum carpets and upholstery throughout the aircraft to remove dirt, debris, and stains.
  • Empty and clean all waste receptacles, including seat pockets and lavatories, ensuring a hygienic environment.
  • Restock lavatory supplies, including toilet paper, hand soap, and towels, ensuring adequate supplies for passengers and crew.
  • Clean cockpit area, ensuring all surfaces are dust-free and sanitized without interfering with aircraft controls or equipment.
  • Polish windows and mirrors to ensure clear visibility and enhance the overall appearance of the aircraft interior.
  • Perform exterior washes of the aircraft, including the fuselage, wings, and tail, using specialized cleaning equipment.
  • Inspect and report any damage or maintenance issues found during cleaning to maintenance personnel or supervisors for immediate action.

Aircraft Cleaner Salary & Outlook

Aircraft cleaner salaries vary based on experience, with seasoned workers earning more. The size and type of employer, such as commercial airlines or private jet services, also influence pay. Shift timings, with night or weekend shifts often commanding higher wages, and the cleaner’s specific duties, like interior versus exterior cleaning, affect earnings.

  • Median Annual Salary: $27,098 ($13.03/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $77,400 ($37.21/hour)

The employment of aircraft cleaners is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

This growth is driven by increasing air travel demand, leading to more flights and a greater need for aircraft maintenance and cleanliness. Enhanced health and safety standards, especially post-pandemic, further necessitate thorough, frequent cleaning, ensuring a steady demand for skilled Aircraft Cleaners.

Aircraft Cleaner Job Requirements

Education: Aircraft Cleaner positions generally require a high school diploma, with a notable portion of individuals in the field also holding a post-secondary certificate. While specific majors are not mandated, courses in hospitality, basic maintenance, or safety could be beneficial. Emphasis is placed on the completion of secondary education, demonstrating foundational skills in communication, problem-solving, and adherence to safety protocols, which are crucial in maintaining the cleanliness and operational safety of aircraft interiors and exteriors.

Experience: Aircraft cleaners often start with no prior experience, with many employers offering on-the-job training to acquaint them with the specifics of aircraft cleaning, safety protocols, and the use of specialized cleaning tools and chemicals. Training programs may cover interior and exterior cleaning techniques, waste disposal, and security measures. Experience in general cleaning or janitorial work can be beneficial, but it’s not a prerequisite, as employers typically prioritize a willingness to learn and adhere to strict safety and cleanliness standards.

Certifications & Licenses: No specific certifications or licenses are typically required for the job of an Aircraft Cleaner.

Aircraft Cleaner Skills

Safety Procedures: Protocols are in place to protect both the cleaner and the aircraft, focusing on the proper use of cleaning chemicals and personal protective equipment. Attention to detail is critical, especially near sensitive components, to avoid damage or injury.

Chemical Handling: The safe use and disposal of cleaning solvents and agents are necessary to preserve the aircraft’s surfaces while safeguarding individuals from harm. Knowledge of chemical properties and the correct protective gear is required during application and cleanup.

Detail-Oriented Cleaning: Cleaning every part of the aircraft thoroughly, including hard-to-reach areas, ensures a sanitized environment. A systematic approach is employed to avoid cross-contamination, with specific protocols for different aircraft zones.

Equipment Operation: Specialized cleaning tools, including pressure washers and vacuum systems, are used to meet hygiene standards. Proper use of these tools ensures comprehensive cleaning of all areas, from the cockpit to the cabin and lavatories.

Waste Disposal: Proper removal and categorization of refuse from the cabin contribute to a clean and inviting atmosphere. Following safety and environmental guidelines is part of this process, emphasizing the cleaner’s role in keeping the aircraft ready for use.

Interior Sanitization: Surfaces within the cabin are cleaned and disinfected with attention to detail, using safe agents and techniques on various materials. The goal is to remove dirt, grime, and pathogens, safeguarding the health of passengers and crew.

Aircraft Cleaner Work Environment

Aircraft cleaners work in a unique environment, primarily within the confines of aircraft cabins and occasionally in hangar spaces. Their workspace is characterized by narrow aisles and compact seating areas, requiring agility and attention to detail. The use of specialized cleaning tools and equipment is standard, including vacuums designed for tight spaces and eco-friendly cleaning agents to meet aviation standards.

Work hours can vary, often including nights, weekends, and holidays to align with flight schedules, emphasizing the need for flexibility. The dress code typically involves uniforms that are both practical for the job and compliant with safety regulations.

The role involves a moderate level of interaction with others, primarily working in small teams but occasionally liaising with flight crew or maintenance personnel. Despite the physical demands and the need to work efficiently against tight turnaround times, the emphasis on teamwork helps create a supportive atmosphere. Safety is paramount, with strict adherence to health and safety protocols to protect workers and passengers alike.

Advancement Prospects

Aircraft cleaners have a unique pathway for career advancement within the aviation industry. Starting as a cleaner, one can aspire to become a team leader or supervisor, overseeing a group of cleaners and ensuring high standards are maintained. This role hones leadership and management skills, essential for further progression.

Progressing further, an individual can aim for operational management positions, such as an operations manager, where responsibilities expand to managing the entire cleaning and maintenance schedule for fleets. This role requires a deep understanding of aviation standards and regulations, emphasizing the importance of maintaining aircraft aesthetics and hygiene.

For those with a keen interest in the technical aspects of aircraft maintenance, transitioning into aircraft maintenance roles is possible. This shift might require additional training but leverages the extensive knowledge gained from cleaning various aircraft types, understanding their layouts, and identifying potential issues during cleaning operations.


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