An aircraft with 337 passengers was forced to divert to a different destination after he knocked over a cup of coffee on the control panels.
The plane, which was flying from Frankfurt in Germany to the Mexican beach resort of Cancun, was forced to divert to Shannon airport in Ireland after the hot coffee spilled and damaged an Audio Control Panel (ACP) of the aircraft.
As a result of the mishap, not only did the captain’s ACP fail, an integral part of the inflight communication system that allows the crew to send and receive radio signals, but it also started producing a burning smell and smoke in the cockpit, The Independent reported.
In its September bulletin, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) in the UK revealed the details of the incident that occurred on a Condor Airlines flight in February this year. According to the report, about one hour after the pilot’s ACP failed, the co-pilot’s ACP was affected by the spillage too and things aggravated quickly. “The audio control panel on the co-pilot’s side (ACP2) became hot enough to start melting one of its buttons, and failed,” the report stated.
However, the smoke and the fumes did not result in injuries to any of the 11 crew or 326 passengers onboard the Airbus A330 operated by Candour.
The AAIB report found the 49-year-old captain had put his coffee cup on a tray table – where objects were “vulnerable to being knocked over” – despite Airbus recommending pilots use the cup holders provided. “The size of cups used by this operator on this route made it more difficult to take cups in and out of the cup holder than larger cups that have a bigger area at the top of the cup holder to grasp,” it stated.
The incident happened as the captain knocked over his cup, which was served without a lid. “The operator also issued a flight crew notice reminding pilots to be careful with liquids,” it recommended in its report.
A spokesperson for Condor told CNN in a statement that the diversion to Shannon airport was “a precautionary measure due to a minor amount of smoke” in the cockpit after the spillage. “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. As safety is always our top priority, we have comprehensively investigated this incident and reviewed the procedures of liquids in the cockpit. Our crews were reminded of a careful handling as well as to use appropriate containers for their water or coffee. We apologize for any inconveniences the diversion might have caused to our guests,” the company said.