Long haul flight with 300 people on board diverted because pilot spilt coffee on the controls

·Contributor, Yahoo News UK
FRANKFURT / GERMANY - AUGUST 17, 2014: Condor Airlines Boeing 767-300 D-ABUA passenger plane landing at Frankfurt airport
The Condor flight was diverted after a pilot's spilt coffee caused an electrical fire in the cockpit (GETTY STOCK)

A long haul passenger aircraft with 337 people on board was forced to divert after the pilot spilled coffee on the cockpit control panel, according to a UK investigation.

The Condor Airlines flight from Frankfurt, Germany, to Cancun, Mexico, was forced to land in Shannon, Ireland on February 6.

According to a report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), the pilots' audio control panels (ACP) started melting from the spillage, creating smoke in the aircraft’s cockpit.

The spillage melted the controls, according to an accident report (PA)

The fumes did not result in injuries to any of the 11 crew or 326 passengers on board.

But the accident created “significant communication difficulty” for the pilots flying the Condor aircraft.

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The report said how pilots were given the hot liquid in cups without lids, which the AAIB says was normal for the company operating the flight.

It also found the 49-year-old captain had put his coffee cup on a tray table – where objects are “vulnerable to being knocked over”.

The incident happened despite Airbus recommendations that pilots use the cup holders provided.

Cup of hot drink on the table
Airbus has safety recommendations for pilots drinking liquids in the cockpit (GETTY)

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says diversions usually cost airlines between £10,000 and £80,000 depending on the size of the aircraft and where it diverts to.

The airline responded to the accident by ensuring cup lids are provided on all flights.

It also reminded pilots to be careful with liquids, as well as supplying cups that are an appropriate size for cup holders.

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