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Virgin Australia flight makes emergency landing after piece of wing comes loose

Christian Fernsby ▼ | January 21, 2020
Virgin Australia flight was diverted back to Brisbane after a "large chunk" of the aircraft's left wing was discovered to be "peeling away" shortly after take-off.
Virgin Australia
Air incident   Virgin Australia
Bill Mauger, a passenger on board Melbourne-bound flight VA346 who was seated near the wing, attempted to alert a cabin crew member when he noticed the issue.

Topics: Virgin Australia flight emergency landing

"As we were starting to get some altitude I looked over to the wing and it looked like there was something caught in it. It looked as though there was a bit of cardboard," he told

"I thought that is a bit weird. But then I took a bit of a closer look and it was actually part of the wing peeling away.

"It was quite a large chunk of wing flapping in the breeze."

Mauger claimed he wasn't able to immediately get the attention of flight staff due to passengers being required to remain in their seats with the seatbelt on during take-off. But he was reported to have flagged a flight attendant as soon as the seatbelt sign had been switched off.

"I was waving to get her attention and she said, 'Yes, we've seen it, the captain is dealing with it.' She shut the conversation right down," Mauger said.

Passengers were then informed via an in-flight announcement that the plane was heading back to Brisbane due to technical difficulties.

The outer skin of the left wing was reported to have partially separated from the lower flap of the wing while the aircraft was mid-air, according to The plane was reported to have been redirected back to Brisbane Airport due to "an engineering" issue and "not a safety issue," a Virgin Australia spokesperson said.

"This was not a safety issue, however the Captain made the decision to conduct an air return so the aircraft could be inspected by our engineers as a precautionary measure," the spokesperson said.