The Importance of Cleaning Aircraft Windshields

The windshield of an aircraft cockpit is an essential element for standard flight, allowing pilots to maintain visual awareness outside of the aircraft for the means of safety and operational efficiency. Depending on the area of operation, weather conditions, and other such factors, windshields can gradually lose visibility as dirt, debris, and other materials build up and block sight. To ensure optimal visuals before a flight, pilots should check over the windshield during their pre-flight inspection to determine whether or not cleaning is necessary. In this blog, we will discuss the importance of aircraft windshield cleaning and how it is carried out so that you can better manage your own aircraft or fleet.

While some aircraft may feature windshield wipers to remove dirt and rain, they are not common design elements. As such, most windshields employ things like heaters, coatings, and other solutions that help to prevent build-ups. Nevertheless, heavy storms or poor atmospheric conditions can exacerbate the collection of grime, dust, and dirt as droplets begin to stick to the surface of the windshield. As visibility is lost, pilots will have a harder time maintaining focus on distant objects, visual communication with air traffic control may be hindered, and more.

In night hours, conducting a visual landing can be even more dangerous as debris blurs light across surfaces and depth perception is altered. Generally, the blurring of runway lights is a result of leftover de-icing fluids or oil that is covering a surface. Without windshield wipers, this grime or oil may be difficult to remove until the aircraft is fully stopped and landed.

With these various hazards, one can see why it is very important to keep windshields clean however possible. If you notice during your pre-flight inspection that the windshield has collected dirt, grime, and debris, the cleaning process can be fairly simple as all one needs is a clean microfiber cloth and an approved cleaning spray. It is essential that a microfiber cloth is used instead of a rag, paper towel, or similar material as the acrylic of windshields may become scratched or damaged. Once the windshield is cleaned, you are also encouraged to use a polishing towel and spray to keep the windshield clear and streak-free.

As a common tip, if debris includes things like dead bugs or other larger objects, be sure to not press down too hard when wiping. Bugs should be softened up with fluids so that they become less abrasive before they can be brushed off. As bugs can collect on the towel that is used to remove them, separate towels should be used for cleaning the windshield and removing bugs. When it comes to what cleaner products are best, sprays like Plexus, All Kleer, and Clear View are all common recommendations.

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