The flight was diverted from London to New York via Ireland as the First Officer had not yet completed pilot training. Airline Virgin Atlantic spoke of a roster error on Thursday. The Airbus A330 was in the air for 40 minutes on Monday, and the first officer noticed in the cockpit that he had not yet completed his last training flight and had not qualified as a captain instructor.

They then flew back to London Heathrow Airport, where the plane landed 90 minutes after takeoff, the PA news agency reported on Thursday. The first officer was replaced and the engine restarted. The jet finally landed in New York two hours and 40 minutes late. It was not immediately clear how many passengers were on board.

Virgin Atlantic said the first officer on duty has been with the company since 2017 and is fully qualified to fly under UK law. However, he still missed a final assessment flight that was part of the airline’s internal requirements. A spokesman for the UK Air Traffic Control said: “Both pilots were duly licensed and qualified to operate the flight.”

Sent by: APA / dpa