A New York-bound Virgin Atlantic flight was canceled moments before takeoff after a concerned passenger reported several missing screws from the airplane’s wing.
The aircraft, scheduled to fly from Manchester, England, to New York City, underwent additional maintenance checks following the passenger’s remarks.
“British traveler Phil Hardy, 41, was onboard Flight VS127 at Manchester Airport in the UK on Jan. 15 when he noticed the four missing fasteners during a safety briefing for passengers and decided to alert the cabin crew,” the New York Post reports.
NEW: A New York-bound Virgin Atlantic flight was canceled just moments before takeoff when an alarmed passenger said he spotted several screws missing from the plane’s wing, NY Post reports pic.twitter.com/xxQv2Up860
— Insider Paper (@TheInsiderPaper) January 22, 2024
“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, according to the New York Post.
“I thought it was best to mention it to a flight attendant to be on the safe side,” he added.
The New York Post reports:
Engineers were promptly called out to carry out maintenance checks on the Airbus A330 aircraft before its scheduled takeoff to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, a Virgin Atlantic rep said.
Footage shot by Hardy showed one of the engineers climbing onto the plane’s wing before using a screwdriver to tinker with some of the fasteners.
Hardy said airline staff repeatedly reassured him there was no safety issue with the wing, but his fear was heightened given the recent ordeal in which an Alaska Airlines plane lost its door plug and a chunk of its fuselage flew off mid-flight.
Both Virgin and Airbus stressed there was no impact to the safety of last week’s aircraft despite the missing fixings.
The Virgin representative said the flight ended up being axed to “provide time for precautionary additional engineering maintenance checks, which allowed our team the maximum time to complete their inspections.
A New York-bound Virgin Atlantic flight was canceled just moments before takeoff last week when an alarmed passenger said he spotted several screws missing from the plane’s wing. pic.twitter.com/YCt9smp48R
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) January 22, 2024
From Fox Business:
The team that conducted the inspections found the tops of four out of the 119 fasteners on the wing panel were missing, according to Virgin Atlantic. Workers eventually installed new fasteners as replacements.
“The safety of our customers and crew is always our top priority and this was not compromised at any point,” Virgin Atlantic told FOX Business. “We always work well above industry safety standards and the aircraft is now back in service.”
“The panel in the image is a secondary structure panel, used to improve the aerodynamic performance of the aircraft,” Neil Firth, an Airbus local chief wing engineer for the A330, said in a statement. “Each of these panels has 119 fasteners so there was no impact to the structural integrity or load capability of the wing, and the aircraft was safe to operate.”