Airlines wash engines. Do you know why?

Airlines wash their engines regularly. Do you know why? Photo: United Airlines. 

Airlines wash their engines regularly. Do you know why? Photo: United Airlines. 

I learned recently that United Airlines washes about 50 jet engines per week. Do you know why?

Airlines wash engines because it promotes fuel efficiency. According to United, which washes its engine at warm-weather airports, each wash saves the company about $8,000 year in fuel costs because of reduced fuel burn. 

Last year, United says it saved more than $24 million on its fuel bill simply by washing engines.  

What does the process entail?

A few years ago, a film crew followed Pratt & Whitney employees as they conducted an engine wash on aJetBlue Airbus A320 parked at the gate in Fort Lauderdale. From the video, we learn a few things:

  • An engine wash can take as little as an hour. 
  • Pratt & Whitney can recycle the water and "use it over and over again"
  • Pratt & Whitney's system uses only "very pure water"
  • Airlines tend to see benefits immediately after the engine is washed. 

Want to see one for yourself? You can watch Pratt & Whitney wash an engine about 30 seconds into this video.