On Sept. 12, the U.K.’s Department of Transport, Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) revealed in a new report that a Condor Airlines flight from Frankfurt, Germany, to Cancun, Mexico, in February was forced to make an emergency landing after the pilot’s coffee was accidentally spilled on the plane’s aircraft control panel.
The splatter caused an “immediate malfunction” with the device, burning so hot as to “to start melting one of its buttons,” the AAIB said. Ultimately, the aviator was diverted to Shannon, Ireland after a small amount of smoke filled the cockpit.
On Feb. 6, Condor Airlines’ flight DE2116 soared over the North Atlantic Ocean when the 49-year-old pilot placed his lidless cup of coffee on a tray table in the cockpit, and the drink was suddenly “knocked over” onto the first audio control panel (ACP1) the report said.
“The coffee on the center console was dried quickly but resulted in immediate malfunction of ACP1 that affected VHF [radio] transmissions and public address announcements from this unit. The crew attempted to isolate the control panel but it was not possible to do this from the flight deck. Subsequently… the ACP1 unit became very hot and failed and there was an electrical burning smell in the cockpit.”the release detailed.
Minutes later, “the audio control panel on the co-pilot’s side (ACP2) became hot enough to start melting one of its buttons, and failed. A small amount of smoke was observed coming from the ACP1.”
In response, the pilot quickly diverted to Shannon, Ireland, as a precaution. The flight crew used supplementary oxygen and one pilot was kept on oxygen “at all times” during the emergency landing.
Though reps for Thomas Cook Airlines, the operator of the Germany-based Condor carrier, were not immediately available to offer further comment, a spokeswoman for Condor offered Fox News the following statement on the story:
“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,”she said on Sept. 13.
“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,” the Condor official continued.
“We apologize for any inconveniences the diversion might have caused to our guests.”