Virgin Atlantic plane forced to reroute due to cracked windshield at 40,000ft

A Virgin Atlantic flight was forced to return to London after the windshield of the Boeing 787 aircraft cracked mid-flight.

Virgin flight VS41 from London Heathrow to San Francisco was turned around by the pilot, reportedly while flying at 40,000ft, on 27 May.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

According to the airline, the Boeing 787-9 plane’s wear-resistant outer layer had “partly cracked” three hours into the transatlantic flight.

The British aviation hub had the “replacement parts” and “tooling” to repair the damaged aircraft.

Virgin Atlantic offered impacted passengers overnight accommodation and made alternative flight arrangements for those delayed to finish the journey to San Francisco the next day.

It is unknown what caused the windshield– made of “multiple layers” – to crack mid-flight.

A spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic said: “On 27th May 2024, our flight, the VS41 from London Heathrow to San Francisco returned to Heathrow due to damage to the outer layer of the cockpit windscreen.

“At no point was the safety of the aircraft, our customers or our cabin crew compromised and the Captain made the decision to return to Heathrow, where we had the replacement parts and tooling in place to fix the issue and avoid further impact to our customers and our schedules.

“We always work well above industry safety standards and the aircraft was back in service within 24 hours of the event. We’d like to apologise to the customers involved, for the delay to their journeys.”

It’s not the first time this year that a cracked windshield has forced a plane to reroute.

In January, a United Airlines jet was forced to divert to Denver mid-flight due to a cracked windshield.

The plane was on its way to Washington DC on Sunday when it made a detour to Denver due to a crack in the windshield, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.

Similarly, American Airlines passengers were left stuck in Boston after their flight was forced to land just 250 miles into its journey after a crack was discovered in the windshield this February.

The flight, which was on its way to Spain, was 250 miles from the coast of Massachusetts over the Atlantic Ocean when it was forced to divert.