- A transatlantic flight from Germany to Mexico had to be diverted to Ireland after a pilot spilled a cup of coffee on the flight controls.
- The pilot was given a cup of coffee with no lid that was then knocked over, causing smoke and even a button to melt, affecting flight communications, according to the official incident report.
- The Condor plane, flying from Frankfurt, Germany to Cancun, Mexico, had to land in Shannon, Ireland, and none of its 11 crew members and 326 passengers were injured.
- Airbus, which makes the plane, recommends that crew use the cockpit’s cupholders, but the cups on the Condor flights were too small for the cupholders, the report said.
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A transatlantic flight bound for Mexico was forced to divert and land in Ireland after a pilot spilled a cup of coffee on the plane’s controls.
The flight, operated by German airline Condor, was travelling from Frankfurt, Germany to Cancun, Mexico, in February when the pilot was given a cup of coffee with no lid, according to a new report from the UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch.
Serving pilots cups with no lids is “normal for this operator and route,” the AAIB said, and the pilot put the cup on his tray table while he continued doing necessary procedures as part of the flight.
But the cup was knocked over, and “most of the liquid” fell onto his lap and a “small amount” fell on to his audio control panel.
The two audio control panels in the cockpit then failed, becoming hot and creating smoke and a burning smell, and causing “significant communication difficulty for the flight crew.”
They became so hot that one of the buttons on the panels melted. The pilots then put on oxygen masks as a result of the smoke.
They then decided to divert the plane, which had 11 crew members and 326 passengers on board, to Shannon Airport in the west of Ireland. No one was injured.
“The resulting electrical burning smell and smoke in the cockpit necessitated a diversion to Shannon Airport,” the report said.
A spokeswoman for Condor told USA Today: “After the aircraft was fully inspected and repaired by our team of engineers, the flight continued via Manchester due to the legal operating hours of the crew.”
Manufacturer Airbus recommends pilots use cup holders to avoid any spillages, but Condor’s cups were too small
Airbus, which manufactured the A330-243 plane flying the route, recommends that pilots use the cup holder in the cockpit of its planes, according to the AAIB report.
But the cups used by Condor on the route were smaller than most, which made it difficult to take the cups in and out of the holders, the report said.
This meant the pilots did not use the cupholders, despite Airbus’ policy, the AAIB said.
“A lid properly secured on the top of the cup may have reduced the amount of liquid spilled on the centre console,” the AAIB said.
In response, Condor changed its procedure to make sure their cup lids are provided on all of its flights and “reminded cabin crew of the requirement to use them,” the report said.
It also reminded pilots “to be careful with liquid” and said it would supply cups that were a better size for the cupholders in future.