NYC-bound flight cancelled after British passenger spots an issue with plane wing

A Virgin Atlantic flight from Manchester to New York was cancelled after a passenger noticed several bolts were missing from the wing.

The transatlantic flight, VS127, was called off just moments before liftoff on 15 January even though the airline said there was no risk to passengers.

Phil Hardy, 41, a British passenger on the plane, alerted a flight attendant to the parts he noticed were missing, according to The New York Post.

“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,” he said. “I thought it was best to mention it to a flight attendant to be on the safe side.”

Engineers were called in to address the issues, with photos showing one of them on the plane’s wing using a screwdriver.

Flight staff reportedly reassured Mr Hardy that this was not a safety issue, which Virgin Atlantic later reiterated in a statement.

Still, the flight was cancelled to “provide time for precautionary additional engineering maintenance checks, which allowed our team the maximum time to complete their inspections,” Virgin Atlantic said.

The incident comes weeks after a fuselage panel ripped off an Alaska Airlines flight in midair, leaving a gaping hole in the plane, heightening fears about aircraft safety.

Virgin Atlantic said the wing panel on the plane was inspected, and the tops of four of the panel’s 119 fasteners were found to be missing. They were then replaced.

There was “no impact to the structural integrity of the wing or the ability of the Airbus A330-300 to operate safely,” the airline said.

In a statement provided to ABC 7, Neil Firth, the Airbus Local Chief Wing Engineer for A330, explained that the panel had been a “secondary structure panel, used to improve the aerodynamic performance of the aircraft,” adding that there was “no impact to the structural integrity or load capability of the wing, and the aircraft was safe to operate.”

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