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Flight canceled moments before takeoff when passenger notices missing bolts on plane wing
Featured Image Credit: Kennedy News and Media

Flight canceled moments before takeoff when passenger notices missing bolts on plane wing

The passenger alerted a flight attendant to the issue after he spotted it on the flight to New York

A Virgin Atlantic flight was canceled just moments before takeoff after a concerned passenger noticed one of the wings was missing four fasteners.

I think it's safe to say that most plane passengers wouldn't have a clue about what nuts and bolts are supposed to be included on a wing, and would probably just accept whatever they saw as being correct - but not Phil Hardy.

Hardy, 41, was preparing to fly from Manchester to New York for his first holiday abroad in 14 years when he looked out of the window and noticed four screws appeared to be missing from one of the wings.

"I noticed the four screws missing during the safety briefing," he explained.

"I could see all the fixings on the wing and they were all white and I could see the crossheads on the screws and then there were just four that were black.

"After taking a photo you could see the holes through to the top layer in the wing."

Concerned, Hardy reported to the issue to a flight attendant to 'be on the safe side', while also trying to reassure his partner and 'put her mind at rest'.

Phil Hardy and his partner did eventually make it to New York.
Kennedy News and Media

After the pilot was made aware of the missing fasteners, an engineer was called to investigate the issue and conducted checks on the wing.

Hardy claimed to have seen the engineer mouth to another worker that the screws were missing, and attempt to put a screw into one of the holes only to find it didn't fit.

"At one point, the engineer removed one of the screws from a different hole and tried to put it in one of the holes [where the screws were missing] and it wouldn't go in," he said.

However, Hardy has claimed that despite being able to see the missing fasteners, staff and the engineer assured him there 'wasn't an issue with the plane'.

"It was frustrating because I knew they [the screws] were missing and I felt a bit fobbed off and like they [Virgin Atlantic] were trying to downplay the issue," Hardy said.

Phil watched the engineer look at the wing.
Kennedy News and Media

In spite of staff's reassurance, the flight to JFK ended up being canceled and all passengers were asked to disembark the aircraft.

Hardy and his partner, Magdelana, had to queue for 'over an hour' to speak to a member of staff, but were eventually able to get to New York the following morning.

"[On the flight] the thought of the screws was at the forefront of my mind but because it was pitch black on the flight, I couldn't see anything, which was probably for the best," Hardy said.

The couple haven't yet reached out to Virgin Atlantic to discuss the issue, but Hardy said the experience left a 'sour taste' in his mouth.

A spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic told UNILAD the flight was canceled to 'provide time for precautionary additional engineering maintenance checks, which allowed our team the maximum time to complete their inspections'.

Virgin Atlantic assured the safety of the flight was not compromised.
Kennedy News and Media

"The safety of our customers and crew is always our top priority and this was not compromised at any point," the spokesperson continued.

"We always work well above industry safety standards and the aircraft is now back in service.

"We'd like to apologise to our customers for the delay to their journeys.'

Neil Firth, the Airbus Local Chief Wing Engineer for A330, also commented: "Aviation safety is our number one priority.

"The panel in the image is a secondary structure panel, used to improve the aerodynamic performance of the aircraft.

"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.

"As a precautionary measure, the aircraft underwent an additional maintenance check, and the fasteners were replaced."

Topics: Travel, US News, UK News