Flight turns back to London Heathrow after Boeing plane windscreen 'cracked at 40,000 feet'

A plane travelling from London Heathrow to the US was forced to turn back after its windscreen cracked mid-flight.

Virgin Atlantic flight VS41 to San Francisco was reportedly around three hours into its 11-hour journey, between Greenland and Iceland, when the incident happened on May 27.

The Boeing 787-9 plane is understood to have been flying at around 40,000ft, and pilots turned it back to Heathrow so it could be repaired.

Virgin has apologised to customers, and said “at no point” was the safety of passengers or crew at risk.

A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said: "On May 27, 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 standardsand 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.”

Customers were reportedly offered overnight accommodation, and were put on alternative flights the following day.

Virgin explained that cockpit windscreens are made of multiple layers.

It offered no explanation as to how the crack happened.

The incident follows a number of recent issues on Boeing planes.

In January, a panel on a Boeing 737 MAX 9 plane operating an Alaska Airlines flight was ripped out mid air, leaving passengers fearing for their lives.The firm has since faced major scrutiny. The incident sparked concerns over quality control at Boeing, resulting in the US’ Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) imposing limits on its production.

The FAA also temporarily grounded 171 MAX 9 planes, resulting in thousands of flight cancellations at Alaska Air Group and United Airlines.Boeing has been approached by the Standard.