Why airlines use tape to fix planes

Not so long ago, you may have seen a photograph of an easyJet airplane mechanic using tape to fix an engine just before take off.

Do you recall the viral brouhaha that ensued once the passenger tweeted said image?

It raised the question: Should you worry if you see this happening to your plane?


Well, let’s set a few things straight …

What may look like plain, old duct tape is actually a heavy-duty aluminium bonding tape called ‘speed tape’. And it can cost thousands of dollars per four-inch roll.

It’s a quick fix for minor impairments or superficial issues with non-critical components made until full repairs can be made later.

Now, applying tape to an engine may not seem so ‘non-critical’, but speed tape is a high-performance product that’s pressure sensitive and will adhere to a fuselage travelling around 500mph – or the cruise speed of a Boeing 777.

So, don’t fear – it’s a ‘cosmetic’ thing. If your plane needed serious maintenance it would be grounded until it was completely fixed and signed off by a plethora of engineers and mechanics.

Besides, with the cost of speed tape, it’d be cheaper for the airline to fix the plane properly, so this is not a matter of cutting corners!

Related articles:
What are the tiny holes in airplane windows?
Why are there ashtrays in plane bathrooms?
Is there a safest seat on the plane?

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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