Drinking hot coffee in the cockpit can be a very dangerous thing…and costly too. Just ask one Condor pilot.
On February 06, a Condor flight traveling from Frankfurt to Cancun and operated by an Airbus A330-300 diverted to Shannon Airport (SNN) in Ireland.
Pilots complained of smoke and a burning smell, prompting the unplanned diversion. None of the 326 passengers or 11 crewmembers sustained injury.
As with every diversion of a British-flagged aircraft, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) performed an extensive investigation (Condor is German, but owned by Thomas Cook).
Investigators found coffee was the culprit. The captain placed his cup on a tray table rather than in a cupholder because Condor’s coffee cups were too small for the cupholder. Somehow, the coffee tipped over, spilling on an audio control power and emitting a strong burning smell and smoke.
Condor has responded to the incident by:
- Providing cup lids on all flights
- Reminding pilots to be careful
- supplying cups better suited for cup holders
A Condor spokesperson told The Guardian:
Flight DE2116 from Frankfurt to Cancún on 6 February 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. We have comprehensively investigated this incident and reviewed the procedures of liquids in the cockpit.
Our crews were reminded of [the need for] careful handling as well as to use appropriate containers for their water or coffee. We apologise for any inconveniences the diversion might have caused to our guests.
It’s a bit unfair to blame the pilot here if the cupholders were not compatible with Condor’s coffee cups. Thankfully, no one was injured, though this little coffee spill cost Condor up to $100,000. That’s one expensive cup of coffee…