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Looking at some photos, I saw that a lot of planes are very dirty (on the fuselage, not inside or in the cabin), and it is said that the dirt on the fuselage affect performance. Also insects affect the aerodynamics of the plane, so, do airlines ever clean their planes?

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    $\begingroup$ they do usually during scheduled checks when the plain is on the ground for an extended period anyway. They also repaint them periodically. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 6, 2016 at 1:41
  • $\begingroup$ Yes $\endgroup$
    – fooot
    Commented Mar 6, 2016 at 4:07
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    $\begingroup$ Several incident were result of improper cleaning procedure, including Aeroperú 603 and XL Airways Germany 888T $\endgroup$
    – Him
    Commented Mar 6, 2016 at 16:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Him, you mean accidents, don't you? $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 7:33

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In addition to repaints, aircraft are also periodically washed and treated to maintain the paint quality and reduce the build up of dust/grime/salt and other particulates.

There are automated systems installed at some airports to clean airplanes as they taxi over these areas. Think of it as a drive through car wash, but for airplanes.

The very first applications of these were actually for the US Navy because they have a requirement to wash aircraft due to their proximity to seawater. A company called tammermatic developed a system for the navy to clean airplanes directly on the field using a set of powerful jets. Images from the tammermatic website

enter image description here

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Then there is the Skywash system (PDF brochure), developed by PMW (a company that makes concrete pumps) to wash aircraft automatically. It was first used by Lufthansa in 1997 (image cc: ARNE DEDERT / AFP):

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Side note: the Skywash brochure uses "aircrafts" instead of "aircraft". English is hard... $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 17:16
  • $\begingroup$ @FreeMan That’s a Britishism, like 'maths', or 'drugs test'. Since they are a German company, they are probably more familiar with British English. $\endgroup$
    – JScarry
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 22:35
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    $\begingroup$ @JScarry "Aircrafts" Is not a Britishism that I have ever heard used in Britain (except by people speaking EFL). $\endgroup$
    – alephzero
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 8:47
  • $\begingroup$ @alephzero It seems to be a popular way of writing the plural form at the BBC. duckduckgo.com/… $\endgroup$
    – JScarry
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 17:07

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