A Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, registration G-VZIG, was forced to return to London Heathrow International Airport (LHR) on January 27 due to an in-flight problem. At 12:42 local time, the VS-105 aircraft, which was headed for Seattle Tacoma International Airport (SEA) in Washington, took off approximately fifteen minutes later than expected. But the flight crew had problems on the first ascent, which brought them to a height of about 23,000 feet, and they had to stop the ascent.
The airplane responded to the issue by safely returning to London Heathrow and discarding its remaining fuel. The RAM Air Turbine (RAT) was functioning and in use for the return trip. About an hour after takeoff, the plane touched down on runway 09L, and all passengers disembarked without incident.
Another Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9, registered as G-VOOH, was deployed for flight VS-105 in order to replace the affected Dreamliner (G-VZIG). At roughly 18:26 local time, the replacement aircraft arrived in Seattle without incident, after a four and a half hour delay.
The original Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (G-VZIG), delivered to Virgin Atlantic in March 2015, has been in operation for about eight years. Following the incident, it underwent routine maintenance procedures. It started operating again on January 28 and was traveling from London to Seattle on the same route (VS-105).
Typically used in the event of an engine failure, the RAM Air Turbine (RAT), a miniature engine designed to create power from airflow, was deployed during the incident. In addition to the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), this arrangement provides redundancy for essential systems. The RAT uses the ram pressure produced by the aircraft's air movement to power critical hydraulic or electronic components.
The RAT system is mounted on the underside of the aircraft and is capable of being deployed by gravity if needed. It has been used all over the world as an emergency power source in a variety of scenarios.