Flight grounded as passenger spots missing bolt on the wing

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The NYC-bound flight was canceled minutes before takeoff after a passenger noticed bolts missing from the wing.

NEW YORK, Jan 24: On January 15, a Virgin Atlantic flight from Manchester, England, to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City faced an unexpected cancellation after a vigilant passenger, Phil Hardy, discovered four missing fastening bolts from a wing panel, as reported by the New York Post.

Hardy promptly informed a flight attendant, resulting in the Airbus A330 flight being called off just minutes before takeoff, according to an interview Hardy gave to the Kennedy News agency, as cited by the New York Post. Virgin Atlantic explained that the cancellation aimed to allow time for precautionary additional engineering maintenance checks.

While the missing fasteners were not essential for the flight’s safety, Virgin Atlantic clarified to Business Insider that the bolts were absent from a secondary structure panel. Neil Firth, the Airbus local chief wing engineer for the A330, reassured that the plane was still safe to fly, explaining that the panel contributes to aerodynamic performance and the missing bolts had no impact on structural integrity or load capability. The aircraft underwent additional maintenance to replace the fasteners as a precautionary measure.

Virgin Atlantic promptly rebooked affected passengers on alternative flights to New York City, as reported by The Independent. The airline issued an apology to customers for the travel disruption, emphasizing that the plane was back in service following a thorough inspection.

This incident comes on the heels of a recent Boeing-related horror story involving an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9. On January 5, a door plug malfunctioned midair, resulting in a gaping hole in the cabin wall and an emergency landing. Investigations revealed that similar to the Virgin Atlantic case, four fastening bolts were missing, prompting the US Federal Aviation Administration to ground all Boeing 737 Max 9 planes.

While the Virgin Atlantic incident was not categorized as a safety issue, it marks another challenge for the airline this year. On January 7, a Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330, flying from Manchester to Barbados, made an emergency landing due to the smell of smoke in the cockpit, as reported by The Independent. The airline attributed the landing to “technical issues.”

This news has been read 1140 times!

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