A Little 'Speed Tape' Goes A Long Way
Gail Sydow got a big surprise when
her 11-year old son Josh said, "Look, Mommy. There’s a big
hole in the wing and the man is trying to fix it."
When she looked out the window, she could not believe her eyes
– a maintenance person was on the airplane’s wing and
was "patching" it up with what looked like silver duct tape.
Sydow and her family had been on holiday on a cruise ship, which
had docked in Durban, South Africa. They then caught a kulula.com
flight from Durban to Cape Town, with a stopover in Port Elizabeth,
reports the Pretoria News.
"I believe there was a passenger getting off and one getting on
in Port Elizabeth," Sydow said. "While we waited, Josh was looking
out the window. When he urged me to look, I couldn’t believe
what I was seeing."
"It was a big hole, like five hands. I had just been on a cruise
and so I had my camera with me and I took pictures," said
At that point, a man seated in front of them heard what they
were talking about and asked to speak to the pilot, according to
"The pilot said that was how he was given the plane that
morning. He said it wasn’t a big deal because he
wouldn’t be flying it if it was. That was the only
information he offered. Actually, I don’t think he knew much
about what was going on. He didn’t announce anything to the
In light of this, said Sydow, she thought that airlines would
take extra precautions and at the very least, not do "patch up"
jobs in full-view of the passengers.
The South African Civil Aviation Authority was well aware of the
incident. Phindiwe Gwebu, CAA spokesperson, said the hole was not
in the wing.
"The picture shows an engine nacelle
strut, which is used to attach the engine to the wing," she said.
"The ‘hole’ shown is a nacelle strut access door... The
approved aircraft configuration deviation list allows for one door
to be missing with negligible effect on the aircraft
Gwebu added, "The aircraft was dispatched in accordance with
approved procedures. The CAA has been informed that the technician
decided to close the hole with special aviation high speed tape for
The Kulula.com fleet consists of Boeing 737-200s and 737-400s,
and McDonald Douglas MD-82s.
Kulula.com has operated since August 2001. The company is owned
by Comair Limited, which has been in the aviation business for over