Brits terrified as Virgin plane forced to turn back as pilot was still a trainee

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There are a few things you don't know want to hear when you're 30,000 feet up in the air – one of which is definitely that your turning back as one of the pilots hasn't completed his last flight test.

Amazingly this is exactly what reportedly happened on a recent Virgin Atlantic flight from London to New York.

Only 40 minutes into their journey, British holidaymakers were suddenly re-routed home after the co-pilot told his captain he hadn't yet completed his last flying test, reports the Sun.

As a result, the massive Airbus A330 returned to Heathrow with passengers experiencing a further three hours of delays while staff found an experienced replacement.

Speaking to The Sun, a passenger relayed the tension on board the flight.

They said: “You could have cut the tension in the cockpit with a knife.

“The plane got as far as Ireland and then they found out the first officer was still in training.

“The skipper had no choice but to go back to Heathrow and find a more experienced member of the crew.

“It was embarrassing for everyone and the passengers were furious.”

Virgin have since apologised for the disruption.

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

“The qualified first officer, who was flying alongside an experienced captain, was replaced with a new pilot to ensure full compliance with Virgin Atlantic’s training protocols, which exceed industry standards.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused to our customers who arrived two hours, 40 minutes later than scheduled as a result of the crew change.”

A CAA spokesperson said: ‘Virgin Atlantic have made us aware of the incident. Both pilots were suitably licensed and qualified to undertake the flight.’

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