Airline Flight Canceled After Passenger Noticed Missing Wing Bolts

In the latest unnerving airliner mishap, an Airbus A330 flight intended for New York City was grounded after an alert passenger noticed bolts missing from the aircraft’s wing. 

The New York Post reported British flier Phil Hardy, 41, observed “four missing fasteners as Flight VS127 was set to depart from Manchester Airport. He said he’s a frequent flier and relayed what he saw to his partner on the airliner.

Hardy recalled, “My partner was not loving the information I was telling her and started to panic, and I was trying to put her mind at rest as much as I could.”

It was then that the observant passenger decided to alert a flight attendant “to be on the safe side.”

Engineers were called to inspect the plane, leading to the eventual cancellation of the scheduled flight. A Virgin Air representative said the decision to ground the plane was reached to “provide time for precautionary additional engineering maintenance checks.”

The statement continued, “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.”

Hardy recorded a video of an engineer climbing onto the plane’s wing and using a screwdriver to check on fasteners. And while the crew assured him multiple times that the wing was fine, the memory of the recent and frightening Alaska Airlines mishap convinced him otherwise.

Earlier this month, a Boeing airliner on the west coast was forced to turn back and make an emergency landing when a door plug flew off of the plane in mid-flight.

The Airbus local chief wing engineer for A330, Neil Firth, said the panel that was missing bolts was a secondary piece of the wing designed to enhance the plane’s aerodynamics.

Firth explained, “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.”

Possibly. But the sight of missing bolts on an airplane’s wing is hardly comforting for those who are about to be lifted miles above the Earth’s surface.

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