Virgin’s Inaugural Manchester To Atlanta Flight Grounded After Firefighters Spray Foam Instead Of Water For The ‘Salute’

Virgin Atlantic had to severely delay its inaugural flight from Manchester to Atlanta because the water-cannon salute that the flight was bestowed with had foam.

The inaugural flight of Virgin Atlantic’s bigger Airbus A330-300 was scheduled to take off at 10.35 a.m. However, due to the gaffe, it has been delayed by about a day. It is a common practice for any inaugural flight to be ‘baptized’ by water cannons that shoot water high in the air from both the sides creating an archway of water under which the plane is supposed to majestically pass.


However, instead of water, which has been the traditional fire-fighting medium, the fire-engines had foam. Once doused, the plane was rendered unfit to take off and the flight was eventually postponed for a day. The foam clogged up the jet engines and turbine blades

The Foam Is Quite Difficult To Wash Off

The first flight had been due to take off in the morning, with Virgin Atlantic’s bigger Airbus A330-300 taking over from the aging Delta’s Boeing 757-200 aircraft. The bigger aircraft not only ups the passenger carrying capacity from Boeing 757-200’s 164, to 266, but also boasts of better efficiency. Though the newer aircraft can carry more passengers, Airbus assures that their jumbo jet features slightly more legroom and the ability to ferry more luggage.

Unfortunately, none of that mattered, when the plane ended up covered in foam. Though firefighters realized their goof-up within minutes, it was way too late by then. The hurried attempts at clearing the foam failed miserably, forcing Virgin airlines to delay and eventually postpone the flight to next day.

Helpless Passengers Took To Twitter To Vent Their Anger

Modern firefighting engines feature two tanks that house different chemicals, which when mixed at the ejection spout, form dense foam that spreads much better than water. Foam is much more effective than water at extinguishing flames that have been caused by volatile gases. Moreover, many-a-times water actually worsens fires because fuels are often lighter than water and hence simply float on top and continue burning.

Firefighters Did Their Best To Clear The Mess, But Ended Up Delaying The Flight By A Day

Despite the advantage, many airports still maintain fire engines that squirt a water jet. These fire engines were supposed to be used for the water cannon “salute”, but the modern engines reported for the grand gesture.

Acknowledging the unfortunate incident, but refraining from offering more details, a Virgin Atlantic spokeswoman said,

“Unfortunately the VS109 from Manchester to Atlanta on 30th March has been delayed overnight. All customers have been offered meals and overnight accommodation and will continue their journey tomorrow. We would like to thank customers for their patience and look forward to welcoming them back on board.”

[Image Credit | Paul Clare]