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Virgin Atlantic cancels New York-bound flight after passenger notices missing screws on its wings

Jan 23, 2024 08:25 AM IST

New York City bound Virgin Atlantic flight was cancelled on Jan 15, minutes before takeoff, after passenger spotted missing screws on the plane's wing.

A Virgin Atlantic flight destined for New York City was cancelled just moments before takeoff when a concerned passenger observed missing screws on the plane's wing.

New York City bound Virgin Atlantic flight was cancelled on Jan 15, minutes before takeoff, after passenger spotted missing screws on the plane's wing.(Kennedy News & Media)

British traveler Phil Hardy, 41, was aboard Flight VS127 at Manchester Airport on Jan. 15 when he identified four missing fasteners during a safety briefing for passengers. In an effort to ensure safety, Hardy promptly notified the cabin crew.

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“I’m a good flyer, but my partner was not loving the information I was telling her and starting to panic, and I was trying to put her mind at rest as much as I could,” Hardy told the Kennedy News agency of the moment he spotted the missing fixings.

“I thought it was best to mention it to a flight attendant to be on the safe side.”

Despite repeated assurances from airline staff that the wing's safety was unaffected, Hardy's apprehensions grew, particularly in light of a recent incident involving an Alaska Airlines plane losing a door plug and a portion of its fuselage mid-flight.

Following Hardy's alert, engineers were swiftly dispatched to conduct maintenance checks on the Airbus A330 aircraft before its scheduled departure to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City.

Hardy captured footage of an engineer climbing onto the plane's wing and using a screwdriver to address the missing fasteners. Virgin Atlantic and Airbus both emphasized that, despite the absent fixings, there was no compromise to the safety of the aircraft.

Virgin Atlantic claimed not compromised at any point

The Virgin representative told local media that the decision to cancel the flight was made to allow time for precautionary additional engineering maintenance checks. This ensured that the team had ample time to complete inspections, prioritizing the safety of customers and crew.

“The safety of our customers and crew is always our top priority and this was not compromised at any point,” the rep said in the statement. “We always work well above industry safety standards and the aircraft is now back in service.”

Virgin Atlantic assured that they consistently adhere to safety standards exceeding industry norms, and the aircraft is now back in service.

Neil Firth, the Airbus local chief wing engineer for A330, clarified that the affected panel was a secondary structure designed to enhance the aerodynamics of the plane. Each panel contains 119 fasteners, and the missing ones did not impact the structural integrity or load capability of the wing.

As a precautionary measure, the aircraft underwent an additional maintenance check, and the missing fasteners were replaced. Phil Hardy and his partner, Magdalena Bobusia, eventually reached their destination in New York City after being rebooked on another flight.

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