A Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350 has been damaged in an incident during towing at London’s Heathrow Airport on Monday. The bar connecting the aircraft to the tug has somehow ended up underneath the aircraft’s nose landing gear. Exactly how this happened is not clear.
As is always the case when incidents such as this occur, it is unclear exactly what has happened. However, an educated guess can be made. The two options are that the A350 moved forwards over the tow bar, or the bar somehow slipped under the nose gear.
The incident has damaged the nose landing gear of the aircraft. Pictures shared exclusively with Simple Flying show that the right front tire has suffered extensive damage, with multiple breaks in the material. However, the left front tire appears to be unscathed. Heathrow Airport Fire & Rescue Service attended to safely remove the tow bar.
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This is not the first incident to affect a British registered Airbus A350. British Airways’ first Airbus A350 was grounded in Dubai for a week after its vertical stabilizer collided with that of an Emirates Boeing 777.
A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson told Simple Flying,
“During a routine ground movement on Monday afternoon at Heathrow Airport, a tow bar became detached from one of our A350 aircraft, damaging the nose wheels. Our engineers were on-site immediately and worked closely with Heathrow’s airfield operations team to ensure the aircraft was safely moved from the taxiway for repairs. We expect the aircraft to return to operations later this week.”
About the aircraft
The aircraft involved in the incident was G-VJAM. According to Planespotters.net, the aircraft was Virgin’s fourth Airbus A350, having been delivered on September 27th, 2019. Rather than joining the fleet straight away, the aircraft flew to Tarbes for maintenance before entering service in December 2019.
According to data from FlightRadar24.com, the aircraft has been on the ground at London Heathrow since 13:49 on Monday. The last flight operated by the plane was VS24 from Los Angeles. The incident happed as the aircraft was being moved following this flight. No passengers were onboard the aircraft at the time of the event.
The Virgin Atlantic A350 fleet
Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350 fleet now contains six Airbus A350s. The first four were delivered in the space of two months, just over a year ago. These were G-VLUX, G-VPOP, G-VPRD, and G-VJAM (the aircraft involved in the incident).
More recently, another two A350s have joined the fleet in the past month or so. G-VDOT was delivered on September 4th, with G-VRNB joining the fleet on September 17th. G-VDOT is the oldest aircraft in the fleet. At 3.7 years old, the aircraft spent the first years of its life registered as F-WWXL, wearing the Airbus livery. The British airline is expecting to receive a total of 12 Airbus A350 aircraft. These will all be the larger -1000 model.
Did you see the incident this morning? Have you flown on G-VJAM? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!