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Virgin Atlantic Flight Diverted After Co-Pilot Admits He Didn’t Complete Training

As the Predator was wont to say in the classic films of the same name, s**t happens. It has a tendency to happen regardless of what we do and how we try to prevent it, but perhaps the last place you’d expect it to is onboard a passenger plane.
Virgin Atlantic flight from London to New York has to turn back because co-pilot hadn't completed training 6 photos
Virgin Atlantic flight from London to New York has to turn back because co-pilot hadn't completed trainingVirgin Atlantic flight from London to New York has to turn back because co-pilot hadn't completed trainingVirgin Atlantic flight from London to New York has to turn back because co-pilot hadn't completed trainingVirgin Atlantic flight from London to New York has to turn back because co-pilot hadn't completed trainingVirgin Atlantic flight from London to New York has to turn back because co-pilot hadn't completed training
Still, it happened. An Airbus A330 from the Virgin Atlantic fleet, flight VS3, scheduled to take off from Heathrow in London for JFK airport in New York, had to divert back to Heathrow some 40 minutes into the flight. The reason was that the first officer / co-pilot had just informed the pilot that he had not completed training by taking the final test flight, Sky News reports.

This sounds way worse than it was, which is why it’s ok to laugh at the incident.

The co-pilot was fully licensed and certified to fly, but had not yet completed standard training required by the airline. He had joined the company in 2017.

On the other hand, the pilot didn’t have trainer status and, even though he has thousands of hours in the air and 17 years with Virgin, the duo could not legally operate the aircraft together. As spokespersons for Virgin and the Civil Aviation Authority tell the media outlet, the co-pilot was in breach of “internal training protocols” only, not of international and national regulation.

Still, the plane was summoned back and held on the runway until a replacement for the co-pilot was found. It then carried through the flight as originally intended and arrived in NYC with a delay of more than two and a half hours.

In a statement to the press, Virgin Atlantic blamed the snafu on a “rostering error” that paired the trainee with a pilot who did not have trainer status, saying that the decision to divert the flight was made in order to be in “full compliance” with company policies. The airline also apologized to the passengers on board VS3 for the delay and the trouble.

 
 
 
 
 

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