A Condor Airlines aircraft was forced to divert while on a transatlantic flight after a pilot damaged equipment by spilling hot coffee.
The Airbus A330 with 326 passengers and 11 crew was over the North Atlantic flying from Frankfurt to Cancun in Mexico when the incident occurred in February.
The aircraft had to land at Shannon in Ireland with pilots using oxygen masks after the coffee was spilled onto the captain’s audio control panel (ACP).
This resulted in the failure of the systems which “became very hot and produced an electrical burning smell and smoke,” according to a report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).
“The failure of two ACPs caused significant communication difficulty for the flight crew,” the report said, adding that the airline “has taken safety action to reduce the chance of spillage”.
It added that the coffee without a lid had been put on a tray table while the pilot was completing tasks in the cockpit.
But the cup was knocked over with most of the liquid falling into the commander’s lap but a small amount spilled onto the ACP.
“The coffee on the centre console was dried quickly but resulted in immediate malfunction,” the report added.
“The unit became very hot and failed and there was an electrical burning smell in the cockpit.
“The audio control panel on the co-pilot’s side became hot enough to start melting one of its buttons, and failed.
“The commander decided to divert to Shannon, Republic of Ireland. During the diversion, the flight crew alternately used supplementary oxygen, with one pilot on oxygen at all times.“
As a result, the airline changed its procedure “to ensure that cup lids are provided for flights on all routes and reminded cabin crew of the requirement to use them.”
Pilots working for the German offshoot of Thomas Cook Airlines were also reminded “to be careful with liquids”.
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