Saturday, August 18, 2012

Two Virgin jets 'sent emergency calls' over Stansted Airport on the same day

Two Virgin Atlantic passenger jets issued emergency alerts on the same day this year because they were running out of fuel.

Air traffic controllers dealt with a total of four low-fuel emergencies at Stansted Airport, Essex, that day – including a ‘mayday’ call.

Two were Virgin 747s, which can carry 451 passengers each. They needed priority landing after flying from America, according to an investigation by the Exaro website.

Virgin Atlantic denied that the planes – named Jersey Girl and Hot Lips – issued maydays. They had been diverted from Gatwick because of severe winds. A passenger on Jersey Girl said: ‘To see so many fire engines on landing made me realize it could have been bad.’

On the same day, an Embraer 190, which can carry 114 passengers, was diverted to Southampton and put out a mayday over fuel.

The revelation comes as Spanish authorities investigate Ryanair for three low-fuel maydays in Valencia.

There have been at least 28 cases of UK passenger airlines declaring low-fuel emergencies in the last two years while flying to airports in Britain, the Civil Aviation Authority has revealed.

Three were mayday calls made in the first five months of this year. Destinations included Heathrow, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham.

Commercial passenger aircraft are legally required to have enough fuel to reach their destination and perform a ‘go-around’ – when the landing is aborted and the plane flies around the airport for another attempt – and divert to another airport plus stay in a holding pattern for 30 minutes.

Virgin Atlantic said: ‘Due to severe and abnormal weather conditions, two flights in January 2012 were diverted to Stansted.

Our fuel management procedures are approved by  the CAA and comply with all industry regulations.’

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