Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330 returns to Manchester with smoke reported in cockpit

A Virgin Atlantic flight heading from Manchester Airport (MAN) to Bridgetown Airport (BGI) in Barbados was forced to return following reports of smoke in the cockpit. 

The flight took off from Manchester on January 7, 2023, at 12:59 operating as flight VS77. The flight was being performed by one of the airline’s 10-strong fleet of Airbus A330-300s registered G-VKSS.   

After just 19 minutes in the air and having leveled off at an altitude of 27,000ft just off the North Wales coast, the pilots reported to air traffic controllers that “dense acrid smoke” was filling the cockpit. The aircraft swiftly turned back eastwards and landed back at Manchester at 13:49. 


The aircraft subsequently made an emergency landing back at Manchester Airport and was met upon arrival by the airport’s own as well as the local fire and rescue service. It is understood that no emergency evacuation of the aircraft was necessary, and that the aircraft returned to a parking stand under its power. 

“The VS77 from Manchester to Barbados has returned to Manchester due to a technical issue,” said a Virgin Atlantic spokesperson. “The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our top priority and we apologize for any inconvenience caused.” 

“At just after 13:30 on Sunday, January 7, 2023, firefighters were called to an incident involving an aircraft making an emergency landing at Manchester Airport,” said a spokesperson for the local fire service. “Working alongside Manchester Airport fire personnel, firefighters were on standby for the aircraft’s arrival, which landed safely. Our crews were in attendance for approximately one and a half hours.” 

Bradley Caslin /

The aircraft involved in the incident is 13 years old, having first flown in January 2011 and was delivered to Virgin Atlantic in February 2011. The aircraft is powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines and is configured to carry 264 passengers in a three-class configuration (31 in Upper Class, 48 in Premium Economy, and 185 in Economy).  

In addition to the 10 A330-300s used by the carrier, Virgin Atlantic also operates four A330-900neos with an average age of 1.2 years. 

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