Depending on the type of glider, different cleaning methods should be employed. After all flights, wipe down the glider with a soft cloth or a wet chamois. This removes any debris or bugs. This should be done in a timely manner because waiting too long allows bugs to dry making removal difficult.
Training gliders made of fabric should be cleaned with spray-on and wash-off products. Avoid using large amounts of water as the water may penetrate cracks and holes, especially on earlier wooded or vintage gliders, which damages and reduces the life of the fabric or wood. Moisture damages any glider if allowed to stay wet. On metal gliders, a low-pressure hose and mild detergent is used for cleaning. For high performance fiberglass gliders, use a special spray or cleaning paste. Consult the GFH/POH, or a glider supply store, for proper materials based on the type of glider. Care must be taken when cleaning high performance and fiberglass gliders. The use of buffers should be avoided, as the buffer may burn the fiberglass if not done in a proper manner.
After cleaning, a coat of wax or a sealer is usually applied to fabric, metal, and fiberglass gliders. When applying wax to fiberglass gliders, it is recommended to use a silicon-free wax. Silicon adheres to the pores in the fiberglass and makes any type of future repairs extremely difficult. After applying any wax, use a clean, soft cloth to wipe off excess wax and buff the area by hand. For the cleaning of the canopy, care must be taken and only recommended cleaners for the specific type of canopy should be used.
Minor repairs on fiberglass gliders can be performed by the owner/pilot. Consult a fiberglass expert prior to making any minor repair, such as a scratch or chip. Always use approved parts and materials when conducting these repairs. All certifications of gliders, either standard or experimental, should be repaired in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommended procedures and 14 CFR part 43. Pilots should always refer to the specific GFM/POH for any additional care and cleaning of the glider.
Preventive maintenance is limited to the following work, provided it does not involve complex assembly operations. For more information on preventive maintenance, refer to Appendix A to Part 43, Major Alterations, Major Repairs, and Preventive Maintenance.
- Removing, installing, and repairing of landing gear tires
- Replacing elastic shock absorber cords on landing gear
- Servicing landing gear shock struts by adding oil, air, or both
- Servicing landing gear wheel bearings, such as cleaning and greasing
- Replacing defective safety wiring or cotter keys
- Lubricating cover plates, cowlings, fairings, etc., that do not require disassembly other than removal of nonstructural items
- Making simple fabric patches not requiring rib stitching or the removal of structural parts or control surfaces
- Replenishing hydraulic fluid in the hydraulic reservoir
- Refinishing decorative coating of fuselage, wings, tail group surfaces (excluding balanced control surfaces), fairings, cowlings, landing gear, cockpit interior when removal or disassembly of any primary structure or operating system is not required
- Applying preservative or protective material to components for which no disassembly of any primary structure or operating system is involved and on which such coating is not prohibited or is not contrary to good practices
- Repairing upholstery and decorative furnishings of the cockpit when the repairing does not require disassembly of any primary structure or operating system or interfere with an operating system or affect the primary structure of the aircraft
- Making small, simple repairs to fairings, nonstructural cover plates, cowlings, and small patches and reinforcements that do not change the contour enough to interfere with proper air flow
- Replacing side windows where that work does not interfere with the structure or any operating system, such as controls, electrical equipment, etc.
- Replacing safety belts
- Replacing seats or seat parts with replacement parts approved for the aircraft not involving disassembly of any primary structure or operating system
- Troubleshooting and repairing broken circuits in landing light wiring circuits
- Replacing bulbs, reflectors, and lenses of position and landing lights
- Replacing wheels for which no weight and balance computation is involved
- Replacing any cowling not requiring removal of the propeller or disconnection of flight controls
- Replacing or cleaning spark plugs and setting spark plug gap clearance
- Replacing any hose connection, except hydraulic connections
- Replacing prefabricated fuel lines
- Cleaning or replacing fuel and oil strainers or filter elements
- Replacing and servicing batteries
- Replacing or adjusting nonstructural standard fasteners incidental to operations
- Removing, checking, and replacing magnetic chip detectors