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I was reading this blog linked from this answer, and it mentions

“We never use, and don’t even stock, duct tape,” explains a veteran airline mechanic. “Some of the tapes we use cost hundreds, even thousands, of dollars per roll.

Which brings up the question, how many types of tape are used by airplane mechanics and what are they all used for? Obviously speed tape is one type and duct tape is not, but what else is there?

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  • $\begingroup$ Here is a selection of fine tapes, each for a special purpose. At the other end of the scale, lots of masking tape is used for paint jobs. I doubt that there is a single aircraft flying which does not have some sticky tape somewhere. $\endgroup$ – Peter Kämpf Feb 3 '17 at 21:56
  • $\begingroup$ @PeterKämpf -- if nothing else, you have Mylar or Kapton insulating tapes in switching power supply magnetics ;) (heck, even your cell phone charger has tape in it ;) $\endgroup$ – UnrecognizedFallingObject Feb 4 '17 at 3:13
  • $\begingroup$ @UnrecognizedFallingObject: Right, two layers at least. I did not even think of electronics, but you are absolutely right! $\endgroup$ – Peter Kämpf Feb 4 '17 at 7:06
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    $\begingroup$ When I was flying Cessna's we called it 100mph tape. Now I'm flying Boeings and we still call it 100mph tape. $\endgroup$ – Mike Sowsun Feb 4 '17 at 14:49
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    $\begingroup$ We called it 500 MPH tape. I was a pilot flying off the USS Nimitz in the Mediterranean. The salty environment was very corrosive and we would fly the aircraft off regularly to undergo inspections ashore in Sigonella where we had a detachment. Apart from that, and regular corrosion control practiced on the ship, we were asked to fly through rain if we had the chance. We used Duct tape on the leading edges of the wings to keep the paint from getting chipped by the drops of rain. $\endgroup$ – Aaron Feb 6 '17 at 13:34
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I can't speak for General Aviation, but based on the number of tapes I've seen, it wouldn't be outside the scope of reality to think the aircraft manufacturers have a partnership with 3M to come up with as many different types of tape as possible.

For wiring repairs alone, I know our shop keeps at least 20 various types of tape on hand in our bench stock area to grab in a hurry. There are probably another 20-30 other types of tape we may use in rarer situations, but don't keep on hand. We'll usually order that on an as needed basis.

There are a number of different types of "Speed Tape" as well. These are commonly used as very temporary structural fixes for small holes, dents, etc... on certain parts of the aircraft. It looks a lot like a sheet of aluminum foil, but it's some of the stickiest stuff I've ever dealt with.

I know we also have different Mylar tapes that are used for a number of different applications. One of the applications, in particular, is when floor panels are sealed. The sealant can take 24-30 hours, in some cases, for a tack free cure. Since we want to use the airplane sooner, we can cover it with Mylar tape. It'll allow it to cure while under the tape. After the cure, we'll simply pull the tape up and continue business as usual.

There are a number of other specialized tapes I've seen for various other applications. I do know that I have seen duct tape on bleed duct insulation. This is rare, but sometimes the insulation gets torn and people use duct tape to repair it. Quite frankly, I've never stopped to look and see what the approved tape is for that, but if there was one and only one application for duct tape, that might be it.

I can't offer you an exact number, but they most certainly number in the hundreds if not thousands! Oh, and one other thing I've noticed is that Boeing tapes are usually different than the tapes specified by Airbus! So, each manufacturer has chosen certain tapes for certain applications and purposes, although some are interchangeable.

If you really wanted to get crazy and technical, each tape comes in different widths too. All of these come in standard widths of 1/4", 1/2", 1", 2", and 3". I'm sure there are other width's too, but I know I've seen all of those sizes.

Quite frankly, it's dizzying and unbelievable how much tape is on an airplane!

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  • $\begingroup$ Most of which could probably be replaced with duct tape ;) $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Feb 4 '17 at 2:24
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    $\begingroup$ If you search a leading manufacturer's website for "aerospace", it will come up with more than 500 products. And if you go glider flying, look how they seal the gaps between wing and fuselage. Or the aileron gaps. And so on. $\endgroup$ – Peter Kämpf Feb 4 '17 at 7:09
  • $\begingroup$ @TomMcW If it can't be fixed with duct tape, you're not using enough :) $\endgroup$ – Simon Jun 6 '17 at 17:09

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