BrothersThe Airbus A330 was forced to return to London Airport after it was discovered the co-pilot had not completed training.
Virgin Atlantic Flight VS3, which departed from Heathrow Airport in London, England, at 9:41 am on May 2, was forced to turn back en route to New York, United States, after nearly 40 minutes of flight time, British media reported on May 5.
The pilot of the Airbus A330 was informed by ground managers that the co-pilot had not completed the training program flight tests and was not qualified to fly the aircraft under Virgin Atlantic regulations.
More than 300 passengers and crew aboard the Airbus A330 then had to wait at Heathrow Airport while the airline sent another co-pilot to onward the journey.
“The plane was approaching Ireland when they received word that the co-pilot was not qualified and they had no choice but to return to London to pick up someone with more experience. The passengers on the plane were very angry,” a well-informed source said.
In apologizing to the passengers, Virgin Atlantic emphasized that the flight did not violate flight safety rules because the co-pilot was technically fully capable of controlling the aircraft. This co-pilot has worked for the airline since 2017 and is fully compliant with UK Civil Aviation Authority requirements.
The issue appears to stem from an internal Virgin Atlantic requirement that the airline requires all pilots to complete a final assessment flight in a training program in order to be considered qualified.
The Civil Aviation Authority of England also confirmed that the flight’s two pilots were both licensed and “qualified to operate the flight” and confirmed that the passengers on board were not in danger. Virgin Atlantic said it is reviewing its process to ensure similar mistakes don’t happen again.
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