If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere? Well, that’s bad news for one soon-to-be-but-not-yet pilot. A Virgin Atlantic flight headed to New York City from London was forced to turn back after 40 minutes in the air after it became apparent that one of the two pilots on board was not properly certified to fly. Like it’s hard??
The likely embarrassed non-pilot joined Virgin in 2017, but had yet to complete his final assessment. This information only came out while they were flying somewhere over Ireland. It’s unclear what conversation led to the discovery, but it was probably something like this:
Certified pilot: Damn, it’s good to be a certified pilot.
Uncertified pilot: Ugh, stop. I’m so jealous.
Certified pilot: Hon why? We’re both certified pilots …
Uncertified pilot: Umm LOL
Virgin blamed the mistake on a “rostering error” and stressed to the New York Post that both pilots were “fully licensed and qualified,” but the one who was a real pilot was not cleared to function as a designated trainer for the baby pilot. So they had to turn back around and wait on the tarmac for three hours before a non-baby pilot could be scrounged up.
“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,” a Virgin rep told the Post. Seems like that’s not the case but we’ll take them at their word.
A passenger named Julie spoke to the Daily Mail about the oopsie. “We’d just cleared the west coast of Ireland when the captain announced, ‘You may have noticed that we have conducted a 180-degree turn’ before telling us that we were returning to Heathrow due to an ‘administration error’ and that they needed to get some paperwork signed off legally to be able to continue our journey,” she said.
“We landed back at Heathrow and were naturally concerned as you would expect that a large, long-established company such as Virgin needed to get their paperwork in order.”
Ugh. Now the sous pilot has to deal with impostor syndrome on top of everything else. When will uncertified baby pilots get the respect they deserve? Let them fly. They can basically do it.