A Virgin Atlantic passenger jet was grounded after a botched "˜water cannon salute"™ by airport fire tenders clogged up its engines by spraying thick foam instead of water.
The water canon salute is the sort of flamboyant gesture for which Sir Richard Branson"™s Virgin Atlantic airline has become famous "“ and also marks something of a wider aviation tradition.
The Virgin Atlantic plane "“ with its "˜Beauty Queen"™ name emblazoned on the fuselage of the Airbus A330-300 – had just landed in Manchester with 188 passengers on board after its high-profile inaugural flight from Atlanta, Georgia in the USA.
It was preparing to depart from Manchester as return flight VS109 when the watery tradition was set to send it on it way.
But disaster struck when the fire tenders at Manchester Airport positioned themselves to spray a giant arch of water over the top of the transatlantic passenger jet – and someone mistakenly pressed the button marked "˜foam"™.
So instead of pure water splaying down the aircraft, it was fire-suppressing foam which got into and clogged up the vital and sensitive jet engines and hi-tech turbine blades.
As a result the spluttering plane, dripping with foam residue, was grounded and forced to undergo a top to bottom safety check-over running to thousands of pounds by Virgin Atlantic engineers.
The de-clogging work was carried out as the pilot and flight crew went on a diplomatic mission to explain exactly what had gone wrong…