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Flight Canceled When Passenger Looks Out Window, Notices Something Wrong With Wing

Missing Bolts

Right before takeoff, British traveler Phil Hardy noticed something strange while looking out of the window of the Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330 that was about to take off from Manchester, England, and fly to New York City: several bolts appeared to be missing from the plane's wing.

The alarmed passenger quickly notified the cabin crew. Shortly after, engineers investigated the missing bolts, with Hardy filming them climb onto the wing and use a screwdriver to tighten some fasteners.

A Virgin representative told the New York Post that the flight was later canceled to "provide time for precautionary additional engineering maintenance checks, which allowed our team the maximum time to complete their inspections."

"The safety of our customers and crew is always our top priority and this was not compromised at any point," the representative added. "We always work well above industry safety standards and the aircraft is now back in service."

Fastener Fright

While it may look scary, Airbus claims the missing bolts never posed any risk to the passengers on board the jet.

"Each of these panels has 119 fasteners, so there was no impact to the structural integrity or load capability of the wing, and the aircraft was safe to operate," explained Airbus local chief wing engineer for A330 Neil Firth in a statement to Business Insider. "As a precautionary measure, the aircraft underwent an additional maintenance check, and the fasteners were replaced."

The news comes after an Alaska Airlines-owned Boeing 737 MAX 9 had to make an emergency landing earlier this month after a "door plug" got sucked out of the plane's fuselage. Fortunately, everybody survived the ordeal largely unscathed.

The incident, however, has prompted an investigation by US regulators.

Despite both of these occurrences, air travel is still an extremely safe mode of transport. There were zero jet or turbofan-related crashes in the entire world last year, and only two crashes involving propeller aircraft — a new record for the fewest accidents and deaths, according to experts.

More on jets: Boeing Plane Catches Fire While Flying