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I have wingtip landing/taxi lights on my plane. They have acrylic covers to protect the bulbs. They have started to haze over time, similar to the effect of car headlights. I am wondering if anyone has experienced this and can provide information on how to correct this issue. I feel as if this might be affecting the ability of the bulbs to direct light on the runway/taxiway efficiently. I am starting to eye some of the cleaners that say they can correct this in the automotive aisle, however I am very hesitant. I don't want to buy new covers, as I am sure there is a better/cheaper option.

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    $\begingroup$ The kits in the automotive store do work quite well for clearing up headlamps (having used them a few times on my car and my parents.) But I'm not sure if the covering on a plane is the same material, or if perhaps it's against some FAA regulation regardless of material... $\endgroup$ – Jay Carr Mar 16 '16 at 13:13
  • $\begingroup$ Someone recently pointed out that they were able to clear the acrylic covers on their automobile headlights by spraying them with "Off!" insect spray. While the lenses did look very clear, I happen to know that "Off!" will also dissolve wood varnish, so I would not recommend using it without some preliminary experimentation. When I was in Southeast Asia, I used to douse myself with this stuff regularly until I noticed how it would eat into plastics, and began spraying in on my fatigues instead. $\endgroup$ – Howard Miller Mar 16 '16 at 13:14
  • $\begingroup$ If the acrylic covers are hazed or scratched, and you are sure that they are acrylic, not Lexan or polycarbonate, I would recommend looking into polishing out the defects with rubbing compound. Such a process is often used in restoring windscreens or windows. See this page to get started. Personally I would avoid "cleaners" that purport to do this. $\endgroup$ – J Walters Mar 16 '16 at 14:44
  • $\begingroup$ In the interests of full flight safety, I'd think the best thing to do would be to have the covers replaced. $\endgroup$ – Howard Miller Jul 7 '16 at 11:55
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The hazing is a collection of very small scratches on the acrylic, and the way to remove them is to actually remove a thin layer of the acrylic - the trick is to make sure you use something that won't damage any of the paint/metal around the cover.

A mild acrylic polish is your best bet, although any mild abrasive will work (including non-"sensitive" toothpaste and a paper towel... although it might take a while!). There are plenty of "Perspex cleaner" style products for a reasonable price to do it.

Use a small amount (multiple small applications are better for controlling the spread) and try to use a thicker "paste" type of abrasive rather than a runnier one, for the same reason. Apply a small amount and some fairly firm pressure with a cloth, as per the instructions of the cleaner, removing any excess regularly.

If you think there are deeper scratches than just a very fine "hazing" on the lens, you can use a fine sandpaper (eg 1600 grit) to sand the acrylic first before using the polish

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  • $\begingroup$ Before using any produce you should test it out on a small corner of the surface $\endgroup$ – rbp Mar 16 '16 at 22:47
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah that bears mentioning, thanks $\endgroup$ – Jon Story Mar 16 '16 at 23:13
  • $\begingroup$ When I was in the Air Force, there was something specified for this kind of maintenance, but I have no idea what it was. Sorry. $\endgroup$ – Howard Miller Mar 18 '16 at 4:16
  • $\begingroup$ I imagine that even 1600 grit sandpaper would be likely to leave a haze. To polish something to an optical finish, you need something like jeweler's rouge. Look into how optical mirrors and lenses are polished. $\endgroup$ – Howard Miller Mar 18 '16 at 4:20
  • $\begingroup$ Is it possible to remove cover and rub it somewhere far from metal? $\endgroup$ – vasin1987 Mar 18 '16 at 6:00

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