US: Plane diverted after pilot spills coffee

Washington: A commercial plane was forced to divert after the pilot spilled a cup of coffee on the aircraft’s control panel.

According to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, the Airbus A330-243, operated by Condor, was travelling from Frankfurt, Germany to Cancun, Mexico on February 6, however, it was forced to divert to Shannon airport, Ireland, reported CNN.

The 49-year-old pilot, who has more than 13,000 hours of flying experience, was handed over a cup of coffee without a lid. The beverage accidentally spilled when the plane was flying over the North Atlantic Ocean, carrying 11 crew members and 326 passengers.

The coffee spilled on the audio control panel made it very hot and produced smoke and a burning smell. The damage caused “significant communication difficulty for the flight crew,” and forced them to “wear oxygen masks”, according to the report.

The panel became so hot that one of the buttons on it began to melt, which forced the pilot to divert the flight.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch asserted that there were no injuries and that the airline changed its procedures after the incident to ensure cup lids are provided for flights on all the routes.

“The operator also issued a flight crew notice reminding pilots to be careful with liquids,” it said.

A spokesperson for Condor told CNN in a statement, “Flight DE2116 from Frankfurt to Cancun on February 6, 2019, diverted to Shannon airport as a precautionary measure due to a minor amount of smoke in the cockpit after a liquid 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,” the spokesperson added.

The spokesperson apologised for the inconvenience and noted that they reminded their crew members to use appropriate containers for water or coffee.

“Our crews were reminded to ensure 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 spokesperson said.

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