A plane with more than 300 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 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.
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.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says diversions usually cost airlines between $17,000 and $140,000, 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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