A Virgin Atlantic flight from Manchester to New York was cancelled moments before take off after a passenger spotted faulty bolts on the plane’s wing.
The terrifying incident comes less than two weeks after a Virgin plane had to make an emergency landing in Manchester after smoke filled the cockpit.
The VS127 flight to John F Kennedy International Airport was prevented from taking off at the last minute on Monday to give engineers time to do ‘maintenance checks’ after a passenger discovered the tops of four fasteners were missing from one of the wing’s panels.
On January 7 a Virgin Atlantic plane headed for Barbados was forced to turn back to Manchester Airport after smoke started billowing around the jet’s cockpit.
The flight was just 20 minutes into its journey to the Caribbean when pilots informed air traffic controllers of a ‘dense and acrid smell of smoke’.
Airbus Local Chief Wing Engineer for A330 Neil Firth told the Manchester Evening News that each wing panel on an A330 has 119 fasteners.
The affected panel was a secondary structure panel used to improve the aerodynamics of the plane and the four tops that were missing ‘did not impact the structural integrity of the wing, the load capability of the wing or the ability of the aircraft to operate safely’.
The eight-hour transatlantic flight was still cancelled as a precaution and the missing tops were later replaced.
Passengers on board the faulty plane still made it to New York but on alternative flights.
The airline said that the safety of customers and the onboard crew was its ‘top priority’ and that this ‘was not compromised at any point’.
It added that it ‘always works well above industry safety standards’ and that the aircraft is now back in service.
A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said: ‘The VS127 from Manchester to New York JFK on January 15, operating on an Airbus A330, was cancelled to provide time for precautionary additional engineering maintenance checks, which allowed our team the maximum time to complete their inspections.
‘The safety of our customers and crew is always our top priority and this was not compromised at any point.
‘We always work well above industry safety standards and the aircraft is now back in service.
‘We’d like to apologise to our customers for the delay to their journeys.’