Virgin Captain is heading back to London for replacement?
Suddenly u-turn shortly after takeoff, the reason is very unexpected!
It happened at around 9.41am British time on Monday morning when an Airbus A330 with more than 300 passengers on board took off from London’s Heathrow Airport, bound for New York.
Nearly 40 minutes into the flight to New York, it was forced to turn back because the co-pilot had not completed “final evaluation flight tests” required by the company. Back at Heathrow, Virgin scrambled another pilot to take over from the co-pilot, but passengers were delayed by at least three hours.
It is understood that the pilot is experienced, with 17 years of service with Virgin Atlantic and thousands of flying hours accumulated. The original co-pilot, who joined Virgin in 2017, was fully qualified under UK aviation regulations but had to complete a final assessment flight test under virgin’s internal rules. However, as both men are licensed and qualified to fly passenger planes, they are not in breach of CAA rules.
A Virgin Spokesman also confirmed the return flight and apologised for the incident, saying it was due to a scheduling error in which the qualified co-pilot flew with the experienced captain but was later replaced by another pilot to ensure full compliance with Virgin’s training protocols, which are well ahead of industry standards. Passengers were repeatedly assured that safety was in no way compromised. At present, virgin Atlantic’s internal operations are also being reviewed and updated to avoid a similar situation in the future.