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Pilot made emergency landing in Shannon after coffee spill in cockpit

The incident occurred on a Frankfurt-Cancun flight in February.

The spill caused both sets of audio equipment to malfunction.
The spill caused both sets of audio equipment to malfunction.
Image: AAIB

A PILOT MADE the decision to make an emergency landing in Shannon Airport after a coffee spill in the cockpit, the UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has said.

The incident happened on an Airbus A330 that had set off from Frankfurt headed for Cancun in Mexico on 6 February earlier this year.

The plane had passed Ireland and was in the north Atlantic Ocean when the flight crew were served coffee in cups without lids. 

The pilot put the coffee on his tray table while he completed a number of tasks, but the cup was knocked over. Most of the coffee fell onto his lap and a smaller amount spilled onto the audio control panel.

This subsequently failed and became very hot, producing an electrical burning smell and smoke. 

coffee spill 1 A map of where the plane diverted. Source: AAIB

One of the buttons started to melt and the pilot made the decision to divert to Shannon. 

During the diversion, the flight crew used supplementary oxygen with one pilot on oxygen at all times. 

None of the 11 crew or 326 passengers on board were injured. 

The AAIB’s investigation found it was necessary to divert to Shannon Airport given the communication difficulties caused by the spillage. 

On the back of this incident, the AAIB said: “The operator changed their procedure to ensure that cup lids are provided for flights on all routes and reminded cabin crew of the requirement to use them. The operator also issued a flight crew notice reminding pilots to be careful with liquids.”

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Sean Murray

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