Plane turns around after pilot reveals he's not qualified

A pilot was reportedly flying a Virgin Atlantic aircraft from London to New York City when he turned around mid-flight after revealing to coworkers that he was not qualified to fly.

TMZ posted the story Thursday saying that the transatlantic flight was packed with passengers when, after the jumbo jet took off and the copilot revealed he hadn't actually taken his final test.

"Virgin Atlantic has made us aware of the incident. Both pilots were suitably licensed and qualified to undertake the flight," said the company.

Three hours later, the airline found an alternate pilot, which also wouldn't have been necessary if the airline believed the pilot was "suitably licensed and qualified."

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There's currently a pilot shortage, which Secretary Pete Buttigieg addressed earlier this week when speaking to a Senate committee.

“There won’t be a quick fix but we’ve got to work on shoring up that domestic aviation workforce," he explained.

It isn't a new problem, but the pandemic certainly made things worse.

“We think it’s related to a number of issues from the pipeline in to the thinning out of workforces that happened during the worst periods of Covid-related flight cancellations, to some questions about pay and conditions,” he said.

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Flight hour requirements for an airline transport pilot certification in the United States is currently set at 1,500, which some companies think is excessive. It's one of the main reasons that Air Force pilots are heavily recruited in the airlines, because they have documented training and flight requirements already.

The hour requirement was once set at 250, but was changed after the 2009 crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 near Buffalo, in which killed all passengers and crew were killed, as well as one person on the ground.

Southwest, American and United are all heavily recruiting new pilots with websites specifically citing "first officer opportunities." United particularly, said that they intend to hire more than 10,000 new pilots over the decade.