Manchester airport
Manchester Airport is one of the busiest airports across the UK PHIL NOBLE/Reuters

A Virgin Atlantic flight travelling from Manchester to New York was cancelled just before take-off after a passenger noticed a problem with the bolts on one of the wings.

The incident happened on Jan. 15, 2024. Flight VS127, heading to New York's JFK airport, was prevented from taking off from Manchester Airport after a passenger pointed out that the tops of four fasteners were missing on a panel on one of the wings. As a result, the flight was cancelled as a "precautionary measure" to allow engineers to carry out an additional thorough examination of the aircraft.

Both Virgin Atlantic and Airbus stressed that there was "no impact to the safety of the aircraft". An Airbus spokesperson explained that the panel in question is used "to improve the aerodynamic performance of the aircraft", according to local media reports.

Each of the wing panels on an Airbus A330 aircraft reportedly has a total 119 fasteners. Therefore, the fact that only four were missing did not impact "the structural integrity or load capability of the wing, and the aircraft was safe to operate", the spokesperson added.

Meanwhile, a Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said that the "safety of our customers and crew is always our top priority and this was not compromised at any point".

"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," the airline's spokesperson added. It is understood that the passengers on board were eventually flown to JFK on alternate flights.

This incident comes after a Virgin Atlantic flight was forced to turn back to Manchester Airport after take-off due to the cockpit reportedly filling with smoke.

Virgin Atlantic's Flight VS77 on January 7 reportedly declared an emergency just 20 minutes after taking off from Manchester Airport at about 1 PM. The Airbus A330-300 carrier was over the Irish Sea, en route to the Barbados capital Bridgetown, when pilots squawked 7700 (general emergency) and turned it around to the origin airport.

The Virgin Atlantic carrier's pilots supposedly informed Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) of "dense and acrid smell of smoke". It was reported that the plane flew over Rhyl in Wales at an altitude of approximately 9,000 feet, which was half the altitude it was at when it flew out in the opposite direction.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service were already on alert, waiting for the plane when it landed safely in Manchester.