Transatlantic Commercial Airline Diverted After Pilot Spills Coffee on Controls

A plane was diverted from its transatlantic flight in February after the pilot spilled coffee on the controls.
Donna Fuscaldo
Airplane in flight sharply_done/iStock

A passenger plane making a transatlantic trip in February was forced to turn around after the pilot spilled coffee on the controls of the plane. 

In its September bulletin, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch in the UK revealed the details of the incident that occurred on a Condor Airlines flight that took off from Frankfurt, Germany in route to Cancun, Mexico. 


The pilot's lap took the brunt of the spill 

Although the pilot's lap took the brunt of the coffee spill, some did land on the controls, which resulted in what the agency called an "immediate malfunction." According to the report during the failures, the audio control panel became very hot and produced an electric burning smell and smoke. The commander of the flight decided to divert the plane to Shannon, Republic of Ireland. 

Location where coffee was spilled and location of diversion
The location where the spill occurred and where the plane was diverted

"The failure of two ACPs caused significant communication difficulty for the flight crew. The operator has taken safety action to reduce the chance of spillage," the report stated.  "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. The operator raised an action to source and supply appropriately
sized cups for the aircraft’s cup holders."

Location of the ACP1 and ACP2 Boxes
Controls that were damaged by a coffee spill

Diversions can cost airlines serious cash 

The flight was carrying 11 crew members and 326 passengers. Nobody was hurt in the incident.