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Video shows speed tape, not duct tape, on Spirit Airlines plane

Time:March 29, 2023

CLAIM: Video shows a maintenance worker sticking “duct tape” on a Spirit Airlines aircraft before takeoff.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The tape seen in the video is “speed tape,” a spokesperson for Spirit Airlines confirmed. The tape, which is made from aluminum, is used for temporary, minor repairs on aircrafts, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

THE FACTS: A TikTok user posted a video on Tuesday capturing a maintenance worker outside an airport terminal rolling and patting tape along the engine nacelle of a Spirit Airlines aircraft.

“And this is the exact reason I don’t fly with Spirit,” the social media user can be heard saying in the video.

The footage then circulated widely on social media with false claims that the worker applied “duct tape” to the plane. “Woman catches Spirit Airlines using Duct Tape on the wing of their plane before takeoff…” claimed one tweet with more than 1,500 retweets.

But the video doesn’t show a plane being patched together with a common household craft supply or anything out of the ordinary. The worker was using speed tape, a product that is made out of aluminum and is commonly used to make minor aircraft repairs, officials and experts told The Associated Press.

“We reached out to our Engineering team, and they confirmed that this is speed tape, and is safe and commonly used throughout the aviation industry,” Michael Lopardi, a spokesperson for Spirit Airlines, said in an email. “The use of speed tape is authorized by the aircraft manufacturer and our Engineering team, and meets all requirements for use set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration.”

Charles Horning, a professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, confirmed that speed tape is “occasionally used to perform temporary repairs on non-critical parts of aircraft.”

“The repair would be documented in the aircraft’s logbook so that a permanent repair is scheduled to be performed. A common use is to temporarily seal a gap,” Horning said.

In a statement, the FAA concurred that the tape is used “for temporary, minor repairs to nonstructural aircraft components.”

“FAA regulations require an operator to follow the aircraft manufacturer’s maintenance manuals, which may allow for the installation of speed tape for temporary use in certain situations,” the statement read.

The video is also not new nor from Nashville – it was taken two years ago at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey. The TikTok user shared their itinerary with the AP showing the flight was from Nashville to Newark on July 31, 2021. Signs and marking seen in the footage – including a sign showing that the gate is 41 – match those at Newark, not Nashville, which does not have that gate number.

This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online.


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