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Virgin Atlantic turns around flight after realizing pilots not qualified to fly together

The flight, from Heathrow Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport, was turned around after less than an hour in the air.
A Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330 landing at London Heathrow Airport, Hounslow, England, on May 4, 2021. 
A Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330 landing at London Heathrow Airport, Hounslow, England, on May 4, 2021. Roert Smith / NurPhoto via AP file
/ Source: NBC News

A Virgin Atlantic flight from London to New York was turned around Monday after it was determined that the pairing of pilots did not meet airline regulations.

The flight, from Heathrow Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport, was turned around after less than an hour in the air.

A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said that a “rostering error” led to the issue.

Both pilots were licensed to fly the plane, but the captain did not have trainer status.

“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,” the spokesperson said.

“We apologize for any inconvenience caused to our customers who arrived 2 hours 40 minutes later than scheduled as a result of the crew change,” the spokesperson said.

A spokesperson with the Civil Aviation Authority said that Virgin Atlantic “made us aware of the incident.”

“Both pilots were suitably licensed and qualified to undertake the flight,” the spokesperson said. 

This story first appeared on NBCNews.com.