On Jan. 15 at the Manchester Airport in the UK, a passenger spotted a potential safety threat on the exterior of an Airbus A330 plane before take-off. Phil Hardy, 41, spotted loose screws on the wing of the plane when he looked out his window after being seated for the flight. Hardy was seated next to his partner Magdalena Bobusia, 46, at the time of the unexpected occurrence. The two were onboard Virginia Atlantic’s Flight VS127 and set to fly to The John. F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.
Virgin Atlantic Flight to New York Canceled Due to Missing Wing Screws, Passenger Raises Safety Concerns
A Virgin Atlantic flight from Manchester to New York was canceled moments before takeoff last week when a passenger spotted missing screws from the plane’s wing
Phil Hardy,… pic.twitter.com/r0zURFqYph
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According to New York Post, Hardy first noticed the loose screws when passengers on the plane were listening to the routine safety briefing before departure. He said, “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 decided to alert the flight attendant of his concerns and engineers immediately investigated the issue. Though the flight attendants downplayed the situation to guests, Hardy disagreed and filmed the engineers as they investigated the wing with flashlights. His photos were shared by New York Post and clearly show 4 black empty holes followed by silver screws.
While the missing screws were a valid reason to cancel the flight, the chief wing engineer, Neil Firth, reassured that the screws in question did not threaten the safety of the plane. In a Virgin Atlantic statement, Firth said “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 is safe to operate.”
The Mirror reported that Hardy was less than satisfied with how the entire situation played out that day. He claimed that, “At one point, the engineer removed one of the screws from a different hole and tried to put it in one of the holes and it wouldn’t go in.”
He also revealed that the recent door plug incident on the Boeing plane in Portland was weighing heavily on his mind at the time. Passengers onboard the Boeing 737 Max 9 plane experienced a traumatic emergency landing after the door plug broke and caused a section of the plane to burst.
Overall, Hardy felt that Virginia Atlantic “downplayed” the situation. The plane’s missing screws reminded him of the missing screws on the Boeing door plug. In the end, Hardy and his partner successfully made it to New York but missed out on two days of their vacation and were left with a less-than-satisfactory experience.