Spilt Coffee Caused An Airbus A330 To Divert To Shannon

On the 6th of February 2019, an Airbus A330 operating Condor flight DE-2116 from Frankfurt to Cancun declared an emergency. The reason given for the mayday call was smoke in the cockpit. As a precaution, the aircraft diverted to Shannon. We now know why according to the AAIB.

Condor Airlines, Coffee Spilt, Airbus A330
In February a Condor A330 diverted to Shannon after coffee was spilt in the cockpit. Photo: BriYYZ via Flickr

An aircraft diversion somewhere in the world isn’t uncommon for any given day. However, thanks to the number of flights in the air, they are fairly rare. An AAIB bulletin has revealed that the cause of an emergency landing in Shannon in February was down to a rogue cup of coffee.

The incident

On the 6th of February 2019, Condor flight DE-2116 was due to fly from Frankfurt to Cancun. The flight was to be made on an Airbus A330-200 belonging to sister airline Thomas Cook. At 15:48 CET, the aircraft, G-TCCF, took off from Frankfurt. It climbed to a cruise altitude of 36,000 feet, which it reached just as it crossed the Dutch coastline.

After beginning to cross the Atlantic Ocean, the aircraft turned back towards Ireland, squawking 7700, meaning that the aircraft was declaring an emergency. The aircraft then landed in Shannon at 20:17 local time, or 21:17 CET. This was around five and a half hours after it took off. According to the Aviation Herald, this was around two hours after the emergency was first declared.


Condor Airlines, Coffee Spilt, Airbus A330
The aircraft returned to Shannon declaring an emergency. Image: FlightRadar24.com

According to the Canadian Transport Safety Board, the aircraft landed in Shannon without further incident. Of 332 souls on board, five were taken to a medical facility with minor injuries. The aircraft flew to Manchester after being repaired to swap crews. It then continued its journey to Cancun.

What was the cause?

The British Air Accident Investigation Branch today issued a bulletin on the incident. The probable cause of the incident was put down to being A spillage of coffee on to the centre console led to the failure of ACP 1 and 2 resulting in communication difficulties for the flight crew. The resulting electrical burning smell and smoke in the cockpit necessitated a diversion to Shannon Airport.”

Airbus advises flight crew to use the cup holders provided on an Airbus A330. However, the AAIB notes that Condor’s coffee cups on the Frankfurt to Cancun route were not a good size for the holders. As such, the cup without a lid was placed on a table where it was accidentally knocked.

Condor Airlines, Coffee Spilt, Airbus A330
The cups were reportedly too small for the cupholders. Photo: rawpixel from Pixabay

Airline statement

Simple Flying reached out to representatives of both Condor and Thomas Cook. A Condor spokesperson commented,

“Flight DE2116 from Frankfurt to Cancun on February 6, 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.

“As safety is always our top priority, we have comprehensively investigated this incident and reviewed the procedures of liquids in the cockpit. Our crews were reminded of a careful handling as well as to use appropriate containers for their water or coffee. We apologize for any inconveniences the diversion might have caused to our guests.”

Were you onboard DE-2116? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.