Virgin flight turns back as pilot hadn’t completed final flying test

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London (CNN) – a Virgin Atlantic The flight to JKF Airport in New York was returning to London Heathrow when it was discovered that the first officer had not completed the airline’s final flying test.

A “rostering error” occurred when flight VS3 was about 40 minutes away on Monday, causing the flight to return to London, an airline spokesman told CNN on Thursday.

The first officer joined the company in 2017 and qualified under UK flight rules, but the airline’s internal “final assessment” flight needed to be completed, the statement said.

Virgin Atlantic said the flight’s captain, who is “extremely experienced” and has been with Virgin Atlantic for 17 years, does not have designated trainer status, and the first officer was replaced with a new pilot.

The company said both pilots were fully licensed and qualified to operate the aircraft, and the pair did not violate aviation or safety regulations.

However, the airline said the situation was not in line with Virgin Atlantic’s internal training protocol, which signaled a reversal of the decision.

A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said in a statement: “Due to a rostering error, the flight VS3 from London Heathrow to New York-JFK returned to Heathrow on Monday, May 2nd, shortly after take-off.

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“To ensure full compliance with Virgin Atlantic’s training protocols, those who flew with experienced captains were replaced by qualified first pilots with new pilots that exceed industry standards.”

The flight’s passengers arrived in New York 2 hours 40 minutes later than scheduled, for which an airline spokesman apologized.

The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority confirmed that “both pilots were properly licensed and qualified to operate the flight.”

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