A PILOT of a transatlantic airliner flying from Germany to Mexico was forced to land in Ireland after spilling coffee on cockpit controls.

The hot liquid damaged an audio control panel, causing an electrical burning smell and smoke to gush into the cabin. 

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The cockpit panel was damaged by the hot drink as shown in a photograph in the report
PA:Press Association
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The cup holder like the one on the plane was apparently not used

It created “significant communication difficulty” for the pilots flying the Condor aircraft, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said.

The incident happened on February 6 and resulted in the Airbus A330 flight from Frankfurt in Germany to Cancun in Mexico being diverted to Shannon in Ireland.

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

Diversions typically cost airlines between £10,000 and £80,000 depending on the size of the aircraft and where it diverts to, according to the Civil Aviation Authority.

The report found the 49-year-old captain had put his coffee cup on a tray table — where objects are “vulnerable to being knocked over” — despite Airbus recommending pilots use the cup holders provided.

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With safety a priority, the Airbus A330 was forced to divert
Alamy

The AAIB said the small size of cups used by Condor “generally discouraged” use of the holders as it was difficult to grasp them.

Investigators also noted putting a lid on the cup may have reduced the amount of coffee spilled.

Condor responded to the accident by ensuring cup lids are provided on all flights, reminding pilots to be careful with liquids and supplying cups that are an appropriate size for cup holders.


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