A Virgin Atlantic flight had to turn around after one pilot was found to not be fully trained

Business Insider US
Virgin Atlantic planes. (File. Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)
Virgin Atlantic planes. (File. Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)
  • A Virgin Atlantic plane returned to its departure airport as a pilot had not finished a training step.
  • The airline said the pilot was fully qualified to fly the plane, and the missing step was to comply with its own rules.
  • The UK Civil Aviation Authority said "both pilots were suitably licensed and qualified" for the flight.
  • For more stories, go to

A Virgin Atlantic plane had to turn back mid-air and fly back to its departure airport as one of the pilots had not finished their training.

Flight VS3 had taken off from London's Heathrow airport and was bound for New York's John F. Kennedy airport on Monday and was over Ireland when it turned back, data from the flight-tracking website FlightRadar24 shows.

Sky News reported that the first officer had not completed the "final assessment flight" which Virgin Atlantic requires for its own rules, though all the pilots and airline did not break any UK aviation and safety regulations.

The identity of the pilot who did not complete their training is not known.

A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson told the Independent that both of the pilots on the plane were "fully licensed and qualified" and said that the safety of the flight was not compromised.

The spokesperson described the incident to the Independent as a "rostering error."

They said a new pilot was then assigned to the flight back at Heathrow, and the plane then took off again.

"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," they said.

The spokesperson said the airline apologises to customers any inconvenience and said passengers ultimately "arrived two hours 40 minutes later than scheduled as a result of the crew change."

The UK's Civil Aviation Authority told Sky News that it considered "both pilots were suitably licensed and qualified to undertake the flight."

Get the best of our site emailed to you every weekday.

Go to the Business Insider front page for more stories.