Virgin flight grounded after botched water cannon salute

An inaugural Virgin Atlantic flight to Atlanta had to be grounded after a ‘water cannon salute’ by airport fire tenders celebrating the groundbreaking day went wrong.

Virgin Atlantic halts services to focus on transatlantic flights. Image by Aero Icarus / CC BY-SA 2.0

Virgin Atlantic flight grounded after botched 'send-off' gesture Image by Aero Icarus / CC BY-SA 2.0

The water cannon send-off - a gesture associated with the Sir Richard Branson’s and other airlines - managed to clog up the jet’s engines as it was inadvertently sprayed with thick foam instead of water.

The plane with its ‘Beauty Queen’ name emblazoned on the fuselage of the Airbus A330-300 - had just flown into Manchester with 188 passengers as part of its first flight from Atlanta in the USA. But it was while it was preparing to leave Manchester on the return journey that it became grounded by the botched ‘send-off’ salute.

The Daily Mail reported that the fire tenders had positioned themselves to spray a giant arch of water over the top of the jet when the ‘foam’ button was pressed in error. The released fire-suppressing foam clogged up the sensitive jet engines as well as the hi-tech turbine blades. This necessitated a total safety check-over by airline engineers costing thousands of pounds.

The news was broken to the 252 passengers that the flight would have to be cancelled as this work was being undertaken. They were put up in nearby hotels with the plan to fly out this morning.

Related content