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Pics: Airplane passenger finds missing bolts on plane wing

Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet taking off from England's Manchester Airport. (Tommy Beattie/Dreamstime/TNS)
January 22, 2024

A Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330 aircraft was forced to cancel its flight last week after a passenger raised concerns over multiple bolts missing from the wing of the airplane.

The Manchester Evening News reported the cancellation of the United Kingdom-based Virgin Atlantic airline flight, noting that the flight crew was informed by one of the passengers that multiple bolt fasteners were missing from the plane’s wing prior to takeoff from Manchester Airport in England. The aircraft was supposed to transport passengers to New York City.

A spokesperson with Virgin Atlantic told Fox Business the flight was ultimately canceled “to provide time for precautionary additional engineering checks, which allowed our team the maximum time to complete their inspections.”

According to The New York Post, the British passenger who discovered the missing bolts on Flight VS127 was 41-year-old Phil Hardy.

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

A Virgin Atlantic representative explained that engineers were quickly notified and conducted maintenance checks on the aircraft after the airline was alerted of the issue. Pictures taken by Hardy and shared by The New York Post on social media show the missing bolts on the Airbus A330, as well as an engineer attempting to fix the issue.

“The safety of our customers and crew is always our top priority and this was not compromised at any point,” the Virgin Atlantic representative said. “We always work well above industry safety standards and the aircraft is now back in service.”

Neil Firth, the local chief wing engineer for the Airbus A330, noted that the missing bolts only affected a secondary structure intended to increase the plane’s aerodynamics.

READ MORE: Video: Plane catches fire mid-flight, forced to make emergency landing

“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 was safe to operate,” Firth said. “As a precautionary measure, the aircraft underwent an additional maintenance check, and the fasteners were replaced.”

In response to last week’s incident, Libs of TikTok, a popular X account, posted a statement on social media, along with a photo of an LGBTQ-themed advertisement by Virgin Atlantic. The social media account blasted the airline for promoting transgender ideology over aircraft safety and integrity.

“Maybe @VirginAtlantic should focus less on drag queens and LGBTQ pride and more on safety,” Libs of TikTok stated. “DEI will get people k*lled.”