Aircraft storage is not commonly talked about because not everyone is lucky enough to own a private jet. For those of you who do, however, it’s important to know what steps you need to take in order to properly store your flying beauty. You are putting your aircraft in storage to protect it, but if you don’t store it properly, you’ll end up doing more damage to it than you could possibly imagine.
Whether you are an individual who owns a private aircraft or the owner of an aviation company, you should be able to find a storage facility that will accommodate your needs. Depending on where you live, you might have to travel a little farther to find a facility that’s specific to aviation. Generally, commercial tenants have contracts with storage companies and have people who know exactly what to do to store their aircrafts. However, this article is for the newbies out there. If you’re not sure where to start, keep reading and we will walk you through the process.
First Things First
If this is the first time you are looking to store your aircraft, find a storage facility that is specific to aircraft storage. Often times these facilities not only offer you a storage space, but they also provide services to keep the aircraft in good condition and ready to fly. For example, Aviation Dynamix, LLC, which is in Wichita, Kansas, has packages that include things like servicing of tires and nitrogen/oxygen systems, starting and running engines, and flight tests on a monthly basis. If you find a facility in your area that has similar packages, you’ll have to pay a little extra, but you’ll never have to worry about the condition of your aircraft because the staff will take care of everything. The extra money is definitely worth not having to stress over going to the facility every month to turn on your plane’s engine. Who has time for that?
Metal and the Environment
When you’re storing any type of vehicle, you have to be very cautious of weather conditions. Humidity and metals don’t get along very well, so if you live in a particularly humid area, we would strongly advise that you store your aircraft in an indoor, climate controlled unit. Controlling temperature is key to avoiding rust and corrosion. In areas with high humidity, corrosion can be found on cylinder walls of new engines if they have been inactive for as little as two days. Aircrafts stored near oceans, lakes, and rivers also have a great need for measures to preserve the engine. If you can avoid it, you should try to store your aircraft away from large bodies of water.
Indoor spaces are the best way to protect your aircraft from the elements, but if you can’t find an indoor space, make sure to at least cover the vehicle as best you can. Moisture and other corrosive agents need to be kept away from metals surfaces no matter what, so whether you are storing indoors or outdoors, make sure you put a protective coating on the metals. We will get into the details of this in a little bit. For now, just be on the lookout for indoor storage.
Hot and Cold with a Dash of Moisture
Extreme weather conditions can have various effects on your aircraft. Heat and moisture can cause corrosion and rust, while very low temperatures can cause your engine to stall. It’s a balancing act, but there are ways to protect your aircraft from both.
If you’re planning to store your aircraft long term, be aware that you’ll have to go back and periodically run the engine so it doesn’t get damaged. It’s recommended to fly a plane at least once a week for 30 minutes to an hour to prevent any problems with the engine. If you fly your plane several times a month for longer than an hour each time, then you don’t have to worry too much about rust. However, if you don’t fly your plane for several weeks, there’s a high likelihood of rust. Inactivity for more than 30 days requires you to take some extra preservation measures, especially if you’re storing in a humid environment.
You won’t always have time to go fly your plane, so you should take some extra precautions to ensure that no harm is done to your engine. First, a word of caution: ground running your aircraft will not get the engine hot enough and can cause uneven heating, so it’s actually worse to ground run an engine than to leave it alone. If you care about your plane, do not ground run it!
Now, in order to store your plane long term without much use, do the following: install a preservative, operate the plane until normal temperatures are obtained for the oil, spray the interior of cylinders with preservative oil mixture, and use dehydrator plugs instead of spark plugs.
The Biggest Culprit
Rust is every aircraft owner’s biggest nightmare. But don’t worry, we have a way to assuage your fears. The most common cause for rust is actually improper storage. The first thing you should do when storing your aircraft is put fresh oil in it before storing it. This will significantly decrease chances of rust. Make sure to use preservative or anti-rust oil for best results. Preservative oils made with corrosion inhibitors protect metals the best.
Moisture is another major cause of rust. If you want to be extremely careful, you can uninstall your engine and put it in an airtight container to prevent exposure to moisture. Add some silica gel packets in the container and you’re good to go.
Harm done by insects and animals can actually be much worse than rust. If you’re storing your aircraft outdoors, wasps and birds are likely to create nests in the exhaust and exhaust valves. If these nests aren’t found and the engine is turned on, the nests can damage the engine and make it risky to fly, not to mention kill any birds in the nest.
Overall, aircraft storage can be very tricky, but if done right, it’ll make you so much happier knowing that your aircraft is tucked away and in good condition.