Airbus Redesigns A350 Cockpit After Spilled Drinks Shut Down Engines Multiple Time - Aero World

Airbus Redesignes A350 Cockpit Photo: Shutterstock

Airbus has redesigned an entire control panel for its popular Airbus A350 widebody recently after spilled drinks caused a pair of in-flight engine shutdowns caused by the pilots' spilled beverages, especially coffee.


Airbus has made the center control panel, which sits below a console that pilots often use as a makeshift table, liquid-resistant. 

In the last eight months, two Airbus A350-900s experienced single-engine shutdowns because of spilled beverages on the control panel. The engines start switch and some electronic aircraft monitoring systems are all located in the control panel.

Photo: Getty Images 

The problem is that pilots were using the previous control panel as "a makeshift coffee table" because the cupholders in the Airbus A350 are smaller than those found in other planes.

"Airbus, being a good European manufacturer, builds cup holders sized for French coffee rather than US sized coffee," one aviation analyst said.

After these two high-profile incidents, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) released an airworthiness directive that banned all liquids from the center console.

Photo: Airbus


Following these incidents, Airbus also updated its flight manuals to define that area as a liquid-free zone. Airbus also produced a cover for the instrument panel as a stop-gap solution until the controls can be properly sealed up.

The cover was to be removed during critical flight phases but installed at all other times. Airbus has also introduced standard procedures to be followed if a spill happens despite the cover onto the console.

The first incident occurred on an Asiana Airlines flight from Seoul to Singapore on November 9, 2019. However, in this flight, the tea was spilled upon the control panel. The aircraft was then diverted to Manila. 

The first incident took place on an Asiana A350. Photo: Airbus

The other incident occurred on a Delta Airlines flight between Seoul and Detroit on January 21 this year. One of the engines shut down shortly after coffee was spilled onto the instrument cluster.

The plane was en-route above northern Canada when the engine turned off after someone in the cockpit spilled a drink about 15 minutes before the engine shut. The flight was diverted to Fairbanks, Alaska, and was eventually canceled.

Delta's A350 was involved in the second incident. Photo: Airbus

If EASA gives its approval, the new spill-proof panels will be installed in A350-900s and -1000s within the next eight months.

Do you think this latest development will avoid such incidents in days to come? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below:

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