A “rostering issue” caused a Virgin Atlantic flight to return to London Heathrow after discovering that the First Officer had not fully completed his training.
Flight VS3 was operated by an Airbus A330 and was mid-way over Ireland on Monday morning when it was ordered to return to Heathrow.
Managers on the ground had realised that the flight’s Captain was not qualified to fly alongside the First Officer, who had not fully completed dedicated Virgin Atlantic training.
Fully Qualified To Fly
However, the airline reassured customers that both crew members were fully qualified and licensed to operate the jet. But it was the pairing that had not met its training protocols as the Captain was not a Training Captain.
They said this was down to internal training protocols rather than UK aviation or safety regulations being breached. The airline has announced that it will now review its internal processes to stop it from ever happening again.
A spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic said: “Due to a rostering error, flight VS3 from London Heathrow to New York-JFK returned to Heathrow on Monday 2nd May shortly after take-off. The qualified first officer, who was flying alongside an experienced captain, was replaced with a new pilot to ensure full compliance with Virgin Atlantic’s training protocols, which exceed industry standards. We apologise for any inconvenience caused to our customers who arrived 2 hours 40 minutes later than scheduled as a result of the crew change.”
However, others have questioned whether COVID’s impact on the aviation industry and the brutal measures airlines have implemented in a fight for survival have influenced the incident.
The General Secretary of the BALPA said that they were still gathering information about the incident. He added: “We suggest that this is a symptom of the strain the industry has been put under by draconian Covid restrictions and the obvious desire of people to travel. If the support for our industry had been as generous as in other countries then the ramp up of operations would have not stretched training systems as they currently are.”
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