back to article You could have heard a pin drop: Virgin Galactic reports itself to the FAA

Virgin Galactic has reported itself to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after discovering a detached alignment pin from the mechanism used to keep its suborbital spaceplane attached to the mothership aircraft. According to the company, the alignment pin is used to ensure the spaceplane (in this case, Unity) is …

  1. EricM

    Hey, Boeing, that's the way flight safety risks should be handled.

    Instead of putting pressure on staff and FAA inspectors ...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Very selective.

    "At no time did the detached alignment pin pose a safety impact to the vehicles or the crew on board." But no mention of risk to people on the ground in the path of the falling pin.

    I know, they do these flights over the desert so it's minimal.

    1. Anonymous Cowpilot

      Re: Very selective.

      They don't know if it posed a danger to anyone on the ground, but this is why they have to report it. Any item falling from an aircraft or part of an aircraft becoming detached during flight has to be reported to the local aviation authority as an incident specifically because it could injure someone or damage something.

  3. biddibiddibiddibiddi

    To all aircraft and spacecraft manufacturers: I'd like to introduce you to this product called Loctite.

    1. Phones Sheridan Silver badge

      Should it move? Yes ---> WD 40

      Should it move? No. ---> Duct Tape.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Should it move? Yes ---> WD 40 --> rubber hammer --> bigger hammer --> even bigger hammer --> sledge --> Oxyacetylene torch

        1. Phones Sheridan Silver badge

          I had my tongue firmly in my cheek when I posted the above, but it turns out Nasa already have form!

        2. ThereBePirates

          Yes ---> WD 40 --> Liquid Wrench or PB Blaster --> rubber hammer --> bigger hammer --> even bigger hammer --> sledge --> Some breaker bar with some scaffolding pipe --> Oxyacetylene torch

        3. Dizzy Dwarf Bronze badge

          Hammer? Air-cooled-fine-adjuster

      2. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

        Duct tape is only for basic indoor jobs, its not going to survive temperature extremes.

        1. biddibiddibiddibiddi

          Works okay on airplane engines.

          1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

            Engines get really hot, theres no way duct tape is actually on any one of those parts.

        2. Phones Sheridan Silver badge


    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      " I'd like to introduce you to this product called Loctite."

      Loctite is a brand name, not a product.

      1. biddibiddibiddibiddi

        That's going on my list of dumbest things I've ever read.

    3. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

      Loctite will melt at the temp extremes these birds go thru. Its a well known trick to get loctite off by applying heat.

  4. ChoHag Silver badge

    The pin fell off?

    But is that normal?

    1. theOtherJT Silver badge

      Re: The pin fell off?

      It's alright. They towed it out of the environment.

      1. EvilDrSmith Silver badge

        Re: The pin fell off?

        So what's out there?

        1. MonkeyJuice

          Re: The pin fell off?

          Nothing, it's outside the environment.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The pin fell off?

        We don't want it cracking the firmament!

  5. Maxcypond

    Well of course

    Of course they self reported, there are propepble 24 engineers looking at it. If nothing else THEY ALL KNEW. Your cannot keep thse things quiet even if you change them before the next flight, there is ALWAYS going to be a leak.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Well of course

      And yet there are still people who believe conspiracy theories . . .

  6. Luiz Abdala

    Captive pins

    I myself love things with captive pins, where you detach stuff, but the pins remain secured to one of the parts, and can only be removed by some sort of spring or tools that subject it to forces in directions that happen to be almost impossible during use.

    Guns and cars - things that might kill anybody involved - have a load of them.

    By the way, points to Virgin Galactic for the self-report.

    And some sort of redesign could prove interesting to make on that particular pin. Like, does it need to be detachable from BOTH aircraft during flight?

    1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

      Re: Captive pins

      Getting attention even if it sounds bad, isnt actually going to prevent any trips from VG today or tomorrow or even next year.

      Its just a dumb publicity stunt.

  7. NightFox

    Seriously, how do these mistakes even happen? I mean it's not rocket science.

  8. Tim99 Silver badge

    It could be worse

    The front fell off: Clarke and Dawe, YouTube.

  9. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    You could have heard a pin drop

    Based on the description in the article, it was a very big pin, so I guess it made a fairly hefty THUMP or CLANG when it landed :-)

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