Qantas has pissed a lot of Australians off this year. Like many other airlines, it has struggled to cope with the 2022 travel boom, after laying off lots of staff during the pandemic. The latest ‘gaffe’ Qantas has been criticised for, however, is not quite what it seems…
By now, you’re probably familiar with the lingo that people tend to use when they are angry at an airline. “Worst airline ever,” “absolute shambles” and “never flying again” seem to be right up there on Twitter. And in many cases it is absolutely deserved – whether it’s United Airlines (allegedly) doing the unthinkable or whether it’s EasyJet cancelling a flight at the last minute. Emirates even caused quite a commotion earlier this year when they appeared to land a flight in Brisbane with a dirty great hole in it (watch the video of that below).
WATCH: Emirates Jet With Hole In It Blows Minds
Qantas has fallen prey to more passenger tirades than usual this year, with staffing issues and the extra-operational challenges of COVID-19 seeing the airline’s performance drop significantly below its usual lofty standards (in normal times Qantas is known as the best airline in Australia).
Qantas recently apologised to customers, offered many people compensation and vowed to do better. And it seemed like things were getting back on track… Until the following image went viral. Posted to Twitter and Instagram by international opera singer David Wakeham, the image showed what appeared to be a Qantas wing patched up with tape.
The jokes soon began, with “tape on a plane” and “she’ll be right” type quips soon flowing (it should be noted Qantas did not say “she’ll be right” – that was left to the hands of the self-proclaimed comedians of Twitter). Mr Wakeham, for his part, wrote: “When choosing your favourite airline, choose wisely. @Qantas [sic] Profits before safety.”
However, according to the ABC’s fact-checking resource CheckMate (which calls itself “your inoculation against misinformation”), it’s not all it seems.
According to CheckMate, the tape in the photo is known as “speed tape” and is used regularly in the aviation world. In this case, CheckMate says, it was probably put on to cover peeling paint, likely on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
CheckMate spoke to researchers from the Information Futures Lab, who pointed them to a 2020 document from the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
According to the document, certain model 787 jets are “prone to paint adhesion failures due to Ultra Violet (UV) ray damage.”
After CheckMate published its report, Twitter went on to have a second wind, with netizens yet again debating the issue.
You look out a plane window to see silvery tape on the wing. Do you a) ask cabin crew, leading to a short explanation about speed tape so you can google more on it, or b) post an excitable and wrong tweet about Qantas repairing planes with duct tape.https://t.co/9yCXk9w86G
— Ghostly Exile (@ExileGhostly) September 30, 2022
One Twitter user wrote: “You look out a plane window to see silvery tape on the wing. Do you a) ask cabin crew, leading to a short explanation about speed tape so you can google more on it, or b) post an excitable and wrong tweet about Qantas repairing planes with duct tape.”
Another said: “What’s the misinformation? The photo is actually of tape on a plane wing. Regardless what adjective you wish to apply to the tape, it’s still tape & not commonly seen on planes in wide circulation.”
What’s the misinformation? The photo is actually of tape on a plane wing. Regardless what adjective you wish to apply to the tape, it’s still tape & not commonly seen on planes in wide circulation.
— MarksOutThere (@MarxOutThere) September 23, 2022
In its report, CheckMate also points out that peeling paint on the wings of Boeing 787-9 aircraft has been reported on a fair bit lately, suggesting it might be a widespread issue. A spokeswoman for Air New Zealand, for instance, told Stuff that it was a worldwide phenomenon.
A spokesperson for Boeing also weighed in, CheckMate reports, telling Simple Flying: “[T]he peeling does not affect the structural integrity of the wing, and does not affect the safety of flight.”
Finally, a spokesperson for Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) told CheckMate it was “aware of paint peeling or being removed on some aircraft for various reasons” and that “any repairs…must be made in accordance with approved maintenance instructions.”
“Approved temporary repairs do not pose a safety risk to passengers.”
Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority
There you have it. May you sleep a little easier tonight, Australia.
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