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Safe landing? Airliner just had apricot face mask

March 19, 2010

A silhouette is seen on a Mexican flagApricot face masks can hydrate the skin, shrink your pores and strip the paint off  your average Airbus passenger jet.

Next time you buckle up for landing, take a moment to find out when your plane was last blasted with ground apricot pits.

Having a smooth touchdown may depend on how recently the $2 million landing gear underwent the apricot treatment at a French-owned repair and maintenance plant in central Mexico.

“We get a powder made of apricot pits and fire it at the landing gears when they come in for service or repair,” said Claude Gobenceaux, director of Messier Services Americas, a subsidiary of the French aerospace group Safran.

“The apricots are abrasive enough to strip off the paint but not so abrasive that they attack the metal underneath.” Coconuts can perform the cure just as well.

Workers unleash the fruity cannonade inside a walk-in blast chamber at the start of a repair line employing 240 workers.

It is part of a fast-growing Mexican aerospace sector which saw President Felipe Calderon inaugurate two further Safran manufacturing plants this week.

Once organic methods have done their job, workers at the Messier plant near the former colonial city of Queretaro use state-of-the-art laser techniques to search for tiny flaws or cracks that can be repaired.

The apricot is bought in batches already ground up, but is not served in the company’s canteen, Gobenceaux said.

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