The Virgin Atlantic flight scheduled from Manchester to New York faced cancellation just before takeoff when a passenger expressed concerns about the absence of bolts on one of the plane's wings. On January 15, a 41-year-old British traveler on Flight VS127 noticed four missing fasteners during a safety briefing and promptly informed the cabin crew. Following the alert, engineers were promptly notified, conducting maintenance checks on the aircraft.
Phil Hardy, the concerned passenger, shared, ''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. I thought it was best to mention it to a flight attendant to be on the safe side,'' with the Kennedy News agency.
Virgin Atlantic's spokesperson informed Fox Business that the flight was ultimately canceled ''to provide time for precautionary additional engineering checks, which allowed our team the maximum time to complete their inspections.''
The examination team discovered that four out of the 119 fasteners on the wing panel were missing, as reported by Virgin Atlantic. Nevertheless, both Virgin Atlantic and Airbus, the aircraft manufacturer, affirmed that there was no endangerment to passengers. Airbus's local chief wing engineer clarified that the absence of only four fasteners out of the total 119 on an Airbus A330 wing panel did not compromise ''the structural integrity or load capability of the wing, and the aircraft was safe to operate.''
Virgin Atlantic's representative emphasized, ''The safety of our customers and crew is always our top priority, and this was not compromised at any point. We consistently adhere to safety standards well above industry norms, and the aircraft is now back in service.''
Passengers were rerouted to New York on alternative flights.
This incident occurred shortly after an emergency involving an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-9 MAX on January 6 when one of its doors unexpectedly opened mid-air. The FAA has grounded 171 Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes ''until operators complete enhanced inspections, which include both left and right cabin door exit plugs, door components, and fasteners.''
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