Looking out the window of a plane is usually a relaxing experience, but not when you see what appears to be duct tape, stuck to the wing.
A passenger on a LATAM Airlines flight from Auckland to Santiago, Chile last month was alarmed to see a lot of tape stuck to the wing of the plane.
The photo, seen by Stuff Travel, showed several patches of silver tape used on the top of the wing.
But you don’t need to worry.
LATAM Airlines country manager Oceania Chris Ellis said it is ‘High Speed Tape’ which is used to protect a specific area exposed to the sunlight, humidity and airflow, because of erosion, nicks or dents.
“It is 100% authorised by the aircraft manufacturer [Boeing] and it meets all the safety requirements for use set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration,” he said.
Civil Aviation Authority deputy chief executive aviation safety David Harrison said the tape looks like, but is a completely different product to, the duct tape you buy in your local hardware store.
“Aircraft manufacturers authorise the use of speed tape for temporary, minor repairs of aircraft panels. It is safe to use this material for certain repairs and the aircraft can continue to operate as normal,” Harrison said.
Professor of Aviation at the University of Southern Queensland Kan Tsui said actual duct tape is only allowed in carry-on and checked baggage, not for aircraft repairs.
He said speed tape is commonly used to stop further paint peeling on the wing.
“Passengers should not be concerned about flight safety when they see speed tape, because the airline will address this non-flight safety issue ASAP and the speed tape is just the temporary fix.”
In 2016, a Nelson woman with a fear of flying was concerned when she saw tape holding a hatch on the engine closed on an Air New Zealand flight from Nelson to Christchurch.
Air New Zealand told Stuff at the time that speed tape is made of an aluminium similar to that used in the structure of an aircraft and is used to run minor repairs on aircraft and racing cars.