Coffee spill in cockpit forces North Atlantic flight to divert

A flight from Germany to Mexico was diverted to Ireland after a coffee spillage caused failures in the audio control panel systems. Picture: Air Accidents Investigation Branch
A flight from Germany to Mexico was diverted to Ireland after a coffee spillage caused failures in the audio control panel systems. Picture: Air Accidents Investigation Branch
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A flight heading to Cancun was diverted to Ireland after coffee was spilled onto the pilot's audio control panel, resulting in system failures.

After taking off in Frankfurt, Germany, the commander was pilot monitoring when he was served coffee in a cup without a lid, which was knocked over onto both the commander and co-pilot audio control panels (ACP), resulting in a failure of the system and hindering communication between the flight crew.

Just over half an hour after the spillage, the ACPs became overheated and produced an electric burning smell and smoke as one of the buttons started to melt, urging the pilot to divert the Airbus A330-243, with 326 passengers on board, to Shannon in the Republic of Ireland.

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An investigation by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) found that the failures of the ACPs and the smoke were the result of electrical shortages following liquid contamination caused by the coffee spillage.

During the diversion in February 2019, both the pilot and co-pilot alternated between using supplementary oxygen.

The operator of the flight has taken safety measures to reduce further spillage incidents, and recommends flight crew to use the cup holders.