Passengers of aborted plane were not told the pilot was untrained

Travelers on the Virgin Atlantic flight to New York were also annoyed to learn they weren’t entitled to a refund because the delay was within the four-hour compensation window.

The plane heading for New York.

Passengers on a flight forced to return to Heathrow said they were not told an untrained pilot was the reason for their U-turn.

The Virgin Atlantic flight to New York was flying over Ireland when the captain learned that the co-pilot had not completed his training and therefore had no choice but to turn back with the Airbus A330.

Those on board were told the jet was returning to Heathrow due to an ‘administrative error’. Many were furious when they found out all the details of why the flight had been interrupted and were even more angry when they learned that they would not receive a refund.

A qualified replacement first officer was eventually found while the plane waited on the Heathrow runway and he eventually reached his destination two hours and 40 minutes later than planned.







The Civil Aviation Authority reportedly said the captain and co-pilot were qualified to fly the plane.
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Picture:

Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)


Passengers were not entitled to a refund because airlines only need to pay compensation on routes over 3,500 km if they are responsible for the flight arriving late by four hours or more.

The travelers only found out a day later that their original flight had been aborted because the co-pilot had not fully completed Virgin Atlantic’s internal training protocols.

The airline assured them that their safety was never compromised as both pilots were fully licensed and qualified to fly the aircraft.

Julie Vincent, who was on the flight with her husband Marc, told MailOnline on Thursday that passengers had been told there was a paperwork issue which required the attention of ground staff.

Julie said: “Panic set in on board, particularly when on landing people jumped out of their seats and started pacing for more information. At least three people carrying high visibility vests entered the cockpit for a while before the curtains were drawn to hide our view.

“We were kept on the plane and offered plastic cups filled with water while we waited for an update. A member of the cabin crew communicated very loudly throughout to say that two ovens were not working.

“The decision was made and told us that the airline was going to serve us our in-flight meal on the ground. They started serving first class passengers with only one trolley, which took a long time, but before that we can be served, the plane took off again.

“If they had continued to feed us all as promised, we would have been outside the four hour delay compensation window and Virgin would have had to pay more compensation to each passenger. I realized the heist was because the first officer didn’t complete his training.

While first officers are qualified pilots whose role is to ensure flight safety, support the captain and speak to air traffic control, they must be accompanied by a training captain according to Virgin Atlantic policy, it is reported.

A spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic, told the Telegraph: “Due to an alignment error, flight VS3 from London Heathrow to New York-JFK returned to Heathrow on Monday May 2 shortly after takeoff. The first A qualified officer, who flew alongside an experienced captain, was replaced by a new pilot to ensure full compliance with Virgin Atlantic training protocols, which exceed industry standards.

“We apologize for any inconvenience caused to our customers who arrived 2 hours 40 minutes later than expected following the crew change.”

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority told the media: “Virgin Atlantic informed us of the incident. Both pilots were duly licensed and qualified to undertake the flight.

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