A New York-bound Virgin Airways plane was forced to return to London Heathrow Airport after being struck by a laser beam, police and authorities at the airport confirmed on 14 February. No arrests have been made in the incident, which occurred at 4.35pm EST/9.35pm GMT, Metropolitan Police said.

Heathrow Airport said Virgin Flight 25 returned following "a medial emergency involving the pilot," NBC News reported. However, Virgin Airways described the decision to return to London as a "precautionary measure due to a laser beam incident".

"Following this incident the first officer reported feeling unwell," the airlines said in a statement. "The decision was taken by both pilots to return to Heathrow rather than continue the transatlantic crossing. The safety of our crew and customers is our top priority and we apologise for any inconvenience to those on board."

The plane had to turn back shortly after passing the west coast of Ireland, Flight Radar noted. The Guardian reported police are investigating where the laser was shone from. The flight was originally scheduled to arrive at New York's John F Kennedy International Airport at 10.47pm EST. Virgin said that passengers were put up at a nearby hotel and that they will fly out to New York again on Monday (15 February) afternoon.