Aviation-grade Dawn Dish Soap?

I wonder what the spec is on that?



It’s not unusual to apply soap to dry seals during installation to reduce scuffing and marring damage from fitment. It’s a neat headline, though.

I wonder if there was actually a spec for that part of the installation? Should there have been? (technical, not administrative or bureaucratic)


I wonder what the headline would have been if they had used WD-40 as a lubricant? I don’t think the people bringing this up understand how to put any two dry objects together or take them apart.



Every maintenance item in aviation has a written procedure describing the activity, and a list of the specific tools & materials required to perform it. Every once and a while an innocent substitution or deviation from procedure leads to disaster. That’s why every thing is supposed to be done by one mechanic, and then checked by a second mechanic (the “inspector”), and paperwork is supposed to be generated with the names of both individuals. Notably, Boeing couldn’t find the paperwork associated with the blown out door plug. It’s a criminal violation of FAA procedure if they find this was the normal, cost-cutting way of doing business, and not a one-off innocent mistake.

This attention to detail is the reason that aircraft maintenance is so expensive, like ten times the cost of automobile maintenance.



Probably came up because the parts for the Dreamliner don’t quite fit together properly, according to a whistleblower engineer.

Not a problem. Use dish soap?


The use of dawn dish soap isn’t necessarily problematic. It serves no functional purpose other than to help the two seals slip past each other during assembly. Then you wipe it off and are done.

It would be problematic if the technicians were doing this on their own and it was not an engineer approved “assembly aid”. That is, if it was not written in the procedure that you can use Dawn. An engineer would have needed to evaluate whether there were any detrimental effects (such as degradation of the seals). And in general, you only want approved procedures being used in aviation.


That would be my concern. Even if they wipe away the excess, there will still be a small amount of lubricant between the two seal surfaces. Is there any long term degradation to the materials or possibly a change in properties? As I recall, the Challenger space shuttle disaster happened because of hardened O-ring seals, because the low temperatures at Cape Canaveral that day caused the O-rings to be too hard to perform their function.

  • Pete

Hmm… how about Wrigley’s gum or Scotch tape to fasten engine cowlings?

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That recent cowling bit was on Southwest. iirc, Southwest has been heavily criticized in recent years for taking shortcuts on maintenance.


That’s a completely ridiculous idea. Everyone knows you should be using duct tape for that.



You lost me with “everyone knows”…the innocence of crowds.

People would bet on that.

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There’s actually an FAA-approved, duct tape like product for aircraft repairs called “Speed Tape”. Costs about $400 per roll and stays in place at 500 mph jet airliner cruise speeds.

Help! My airplane was fixed with duct tape! - The Points Guy

The airlines prefer that their mechanics not use it, since its application tends to get posted to twitter and youtube creating a public relations problem. But the bottom line is steadily increasing excessive Executive Compensation. - they’ll wrap the whole plane in tape to maintain that. {{LOL }}.


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Mummified Executive(s) !!! On Autopilot (FSD??)…

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Dawn has made much of the fact that it’s a great grease cutter by showing its work with oil soaked birds.

If they can find a way to take credit for a Boeing turnaround, think what a marketing opportunity.

I see a plane falling out of the sky, heading toward straight for the ocean, waves lapping just feet below the aircraft, and the voice-over announcer says “Remember, it’s always darkest before the Dawn”. And the plane triumphantly pulls out of the dive, the passengers applaud, and the Good Housekeeping seal appears on screen with the big blue bottle.

“Dawn”. The official lubricating soap of a generation of Boeing aircraft. Slide some around your sink today!”

Can’t miss, I tell ya.