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Airbus A350 Engine Shutdown Incidents Linked to Cockpit Drink Spills

Airbus and Rolls-Royce are investigating two incidents in which A350s experienced uncommanded in-flight engine shutdown after drinks were spilled on controls situated on the cockpit centre pedestal. ( More...

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Jamie Bone 25
This was the plot of the 1964 movie called Fate Is The Hunter...

Engine failure caused the spill, then radio failure then fire warning on the 2nd of 2 engines when it was actually operating fine.

Life imitating art?
First thing I thought of when I read the headline. How could they not account for spills. Spill proof cups and everything, I still end up with spilled liquid due to unexpected turbulence - on the ground. Don't pilots have other accidents too like maybe getting sick during a long flight? Surely they - wait, illness from having eaten the fish, of course, and don't call me Shirley!
Bob Carlson 4
I thought of that movie also, but could not remember the name. Going to have to find a DVD and watch it again!
latteju 2
Sean Langlois 1
the one and only Airplane
Jamie beat me to the punch!
Good one Jamie - that was my first thought too...Fate is the Hunter. So I can see it now, mandatory Beverage Consumption Training for all pilots including at least a few minutes of simulator time.
sharon bias 30
Anyone who has spilled soda on a keyboard knows that they usually can't be cleaned and must be replaced. Replacing a $20 keyboard is way different than ripping out controls in a cockpit to fix the sticky mess. Maybe require sippy cups for beverages in the cockpit?
mbrews 12
a) Some US-based carriers (such as United) DO mandate and provide "sippy cups " for cockpit crews, to reduce risk of flight control damage from liquid spills. I don't know whether sippy cups are standard procedure for Delta cockpits. b) Raises serious question : DID Airbus & avionics designers perform sufficient design and qualification testing for liquid ingress protection of all critical cockpit electronics ?
Steven Alt 2
Agreed, hasn't anyone heard of spill proof laptop keyboards, or outdoor rated control panels, it isn't hard to make, and should be in all AC
Jim Welch 3
That was my 1st thought!
An insulated hot/cold no-spill mug/cup goes for about $15 bucks.
That’s a hell of a lot cheaper than a shut-down!
lyn williams 2
Ever been clonked in the head by a full 'sippy cup'?
sharon bias 1
A full sippy cup, especially if it's one of the metal ones, would probably hurt if it hit someone. A heavy flying object probably wouldn't be any better in the cockpit than flying soda.
Marilyn Tully 1
How about straws?
These days there are straws produced of paper and a thin layer of corn starch. totally degradeable.
AWAAlum -4
Straws are seeing a general withdrawal from use, as the're seen as an environmental issue.
I would think that hundreds of tons of airline debris would trump a few straws in the environment!
AWAAlum 1
Straws go to landfills. Airline debris? After NTSB is finished with it, maybe it does, too. Don't know.
lynx318 1
That's only plastic straws, should see a resurgence in the old paper variety now.
AWAAlum -2
Well, sorry downvoter - it's a fact not an opinion.
James Simms 2
Yet Asia contributes far, far, far more plastic pollution than the use of straws in the US, yet no one dare go after them when there are gullible sheeple in the US to shame & coerce. Every time a city goes plastic straw free, I send the mayor/city council a 100 pack of plastic straws & tell them to stick them where the sun doesn’t shine.
Those barges with waste you saw in the 70th and 80th movies that stuntmen hurled themself upon from bridges, are those a thing of the past these days in the US, those had opening bottoms as I remember it... asked by a European viewer.
btweston 1
You might have some psychological issues.
SkyAware123 -7
bullshit. I've spilled many drinks on keyboards over the years. I've yet to ruin one.
airuphere 8
Aviate, Navigate, Communicate.... Hydrate?

“A fourth plane, a 330 had radio problems on a spilt coffee”..
if a soft drink can kill one engine think what two soft drinks could do !!! pretty scary stuff , all sorts of $!%# ( things) happen you would think that a $5,00 Membrane under the controls or Key pad to seal it from liquids and dust on a 500,000,000 dollar plane would be in order
Andre Dubois 6
Pepsi Syndrome
Jim Welch 2
I remember that!! 😂
“Remember(!), you can never put too much water in a nuclear reactor!!!” 😂
Tom Hockley 9
Sounds like a replay of the 1964 movie "Fate is the Hunter". Difficult to believe that this obvious vulnerability still gets past designers.
James Simms 3
That was my first thought when I saw the headline
idgie57 1
Same here!
william baker 1
Would love to see that movie but i see its on sale for 60 plus on ebay which seems a little high.
ynot ssor 1 works, but I use pop-up-window/ad blockers.
James Simms 1
It’s on some of the movie channels from time to time. Last time I saw it on was a couple of months ago
Chris B 8
With side sticks on Airbus taking up the Boeing cup holders spot (ignoring the tiller) real estate for cupholders is getting tighter. Its an expensive problem as this report explains.
Contigo cups are for $20 at Costco.
WhiteKnight77 1 and can be bought at Wally World as well. I have this same one and the top locks so the button cannot work if it falls on it.
James Simms 2
Bought three for less than $ 6 @ Wally World to put water in & cool in the fridge. Lifesaver in a Deep South Summer.
Larry Toler 1
I hear ya on that. They are definitely needed down here in Alabama. When I used to do J41 flights we'd burning up or freezing our asses off as there is no APU and our company wouldn't allow us to idle the number 1 engine.
lynx318 14
First one wasn't a Corona beer was it? Plane succumbed to Coronavirus?
The Japanese have a saying, "There is no medicine to cure stupidity"!!

Flying 101, "Never pass a fluid across the Center Console" !!
Steve Barry 3
Recommend using Yeti tumbler cup, 40 bucks usd. Safety is no accident
dnorthern 6
Contigo is better and under $20
harold smith 6
Obviously you people don’t know much about aviation. That yeti cup may be 40 dollars to us, but by the time it is approved for airplane use, it will be 1,000 dollars. Don’t forget the installation charge. 1 minuet to install, 3 hours for the logbook sign off. 🤣🤣🤣
Contigo are 2 for $20 at costco and some of them have a lock on top that, if engaged, wont even let liquid spill if the cup hits the deck on top of the release button. Yetis are overpriced millennial status symbols.
James Simms 1
I agree abt Yeti’s, nothing more than an expensive status symbol that screams “Look at me”. Same goes for certain brands of automobiles. A $6 styrofoam cooler @ Wally World does just as good & inexpensive if replacement’s need.
Larry Toler 1
I'm reading your comment as if you are a DoD civilian or US military, because that is pretty spot on.
lynx318 1
Wondered the same, why hasn't the obvious problem been anticipated and spill proof cups used already in any aircraft?
Could that spill have caused both engines shut down uncommanded?
Wondered the same thing
mbrews 2
- Is a great question, and methinks it's more likely than not. Which is why I wrote my comment above, questioning what happened during certification design and testing for liquid ingress protection. Recently, on a different A350, I believe a single spill at cockpit center console seriously affected TWO cockpit radio channels.
Len Peixoto 12
Fascinating. If this were a 77W with a GE90 shutdown due to pilot's clumsy drink handling, the headline would read, "Boeing, Already Plagued By The MAX MCAS, Has A Potentially Serious New Software Problem On Their Hands." Meanwhile, A350s are having engines shut down on their own, AND unable to be restarted, but hey, no big deal. Just tell the pilots to be a bit more careful with their coffee. Pilots have been dining in the flight deck since the dawn of commercial aviation, yet suddenly, 70 years later, we see RR, as usual, not getting their act together, like the Trent 1000, which has crossed the 2-year mark with no viable fix yet that would allow for full, unhindered (by more frequent checks,) usage of of the engine. Aviation news lately seems to be riddled with MAX/Boeing bashing, so much so, that when Airbus' flagship A350 has an in-flight shutdown, it's just fluff.
btweston 1
Reap what you sow, as they say.
Sam Phillips -1
The A350 incidents were several orders of magnitude less serious than the Max incidents! This comment appears to have been written by a patriotic American who is peeved that Boeing has been exposed for it's low prioritisation of safety and its focus on saving $. Instead he takes the opportunity to have a go at Rolls Royce who have an enviable safety record. Yes the A350 incidents are serious but keep matters in perspective Len.
Len Peixoto 3
This has nothing to do with patriotism or even being an American. In fact, I currently live in Indonesia, and have lived there since a couple years before the Lion crash. The reason I went after RR is to show the difference of how the media is controlling the direction of the fear. It's all MAX/Boeing, all day. Even as we are aviation enthusiasts, one's common sense must see the never-ending, what I call "fear-porn." I even read several articles about the 777-9 first flight that said this, "Boeing, plagued by MAX woes, has had it's successful, first flight of new 777-9. I mean, c'mon. Can such a positive event be made to sound anymore negative? Something doesn't pass the smell test here, and I can't be the only one who sees it.
WhiteKnight77 2
Remember that the press is out for ad revenue. They use what they can to draw people in with headlines that grab uninformed people's attention.
Jim Welch -2
I seriously don’t see how this can be used as a comparison with the endless list of potentially deadly flaws overlooked with the MAX 8&9. At all.
This is a serious issue, to be sure, and if it turns out that it was a known issue, and covered up, THEN & only then can it be compared to the “cluster” that Boeing created.
Let’s see what’s uncovered as a Root Cause & Resolution.
Personally, I don’t trust Boeing’s MAX’s or Dreamliners (Boeing’s own production manager has BEGGED his own family and friends not to fly on them) as far as I can throw them.
Rich Boddy 4
You are seriously underestimating the stupid of the mainstream media who report on aerospace incidents. While Len's idea may be a *bit* farfetched, it's not exactly unreasonable.
Len Peixoto 1
With all do respect, in a civil discussion (not argument,) your words are not those of a genuine aviation enthusiast. While I cannot speak for others, I'd bet that most, genuine aviation enthusiasts here, would absolutely fly a 787, today, or a MAX upon re-certification, without a second thought. It is the common person who cares not about aviation, but only getting to their destination that become afraid of flying certain aircraft because of MSM's endlessly driven fear. What saddens me, as a fan of ALL aviation, even though I do openly prefer Boeing, is that this fear driven media is getting to folks like you, who are obviously intelligent about aircraft. Example, a decade ago when we lost an Air France A330 off the coast of Brazil, anyone of us would have boarded an A330 the very next morning without hesitation.
linbb 5
Have always wondered about that being an ex transit coach mechanic we had problems from day one when things started to change control wise with touch pads and such also shorting due to soft drinks. Don't know how large pilots have for drinks but some bus drivers containers looked like a half gallon.
Lee Withers 2
Pilots have the advantage have the advantage of being able to be served at most any time or get their own, bus drivers have to have their supply at hand. Must have large bladders too.😊
Mark Weiser 2
But folks, it's not the's the humans that throw the straws in the ocean where they spear the fish and sink ships which causes earthquakes, releasing methane and all the dinosaurs die....
ajmexico 2
Am I the only one who read this as “engine shutdown on A350 caused pilots to spill their drinks”. ?
AWAAlum 0
I believe what you're remembering is what was written in one of the posts likening this event to the movie "Fat Is The Hunter".
AWAAlum 1
Lol whoops..."FATE" not fat.
Carl Staib 2
Let's face it, this is an ongoing problem. I don't remember the exact details but back in the years somewhere between 1946 and 1952 at Newcastle (?) airport in Wilmington, Del. there was a "TWA" Super Connie that couldn't land because it couldn't get it's landing gear down. I do remember it flew in circles (News on the radio) for at least 2 hrs. trying to cure the problem. What created/cured (I don't remember which) the problem was spilled coffee on the landing controls in the cockpit. They did get the gear down and lived happily-ever-after. Maybe one of you "Researchers" can find out what I talking about.
paul gilpin 2
the question that needs asking is, what did you have for supper?
the chicken or the fish?
i had lasagne.
So here is the transmission on recommended practices for handling beverages on the flightdeck: "No liquids allowed on the flightdeck"! LOL!
Mark Weiser 2
...then there is the Pepsi Syndrome, a movie where they spill Pepsi into the control console of a nuclear plant and it all goes haywire...really though, Airbus never thought that thru? Seems like an urban legend to me....
Richard Tarr 2
With all the sensitive equipment in the cockpit and high tech surly a spill proof cup holder in a safe position is not beyond the boffins at airbus and Boeing ?am I missing something here .
Even the moskovitch car in the 60 s in Russia had a cup holder
airuphere 2
Why not have cup holders on the window side, as other models do... would avoid lifting that drink over the pedestal 20 times a hour? ( between both crew..)
I;m guessing with the sidesticks, there is limited room to work with.
F A 1
I think I saw cupholders aft of the side sticks as I was perusing google pics of the A350 flight deck.
airuphere 1
Yeah there is plenty of room aft of the sticks.. not sure if there are holders there or not..I don’t see any on the pedestal either - maybe it’s the unused slots where a tray is rested or maybe some crew is setting their drinks just on those unused slots and hitting chop.. I’d like to think I’d always use a cup holder and not rest anywhere else but who knows there exact situation of these spills
Yvon Dionne 1
Well reminds me of Fate is the Hunter.
Here it was a cup of coffee.
dnorthern 1
Install a Bar Bouy on the dashboard. Problem solved!
Ken Hardy 1
darjr26 1
Thank goodness is wasn’t soup.
sharon bias 1
For soft drinks, a REALLY long straw might work so the beverage is kept out of the way. Coffee, not so much. Of course, straws are bad for the environment, so we probably should go down that road.
AWAAlum 1
A number of years ago, while working at McDonnell Douglas in Arizona, someone knocked over a coffee cup on their desk and ruined everything in sight. Thereafter, a ruling came down..."no liquids allowed at desk".
Better give the pilots a sippy cup!
Mike Williams 1
When I am at my laptop I do not drink anything over it. I'm on an office type swivel seat and I then back away and swivel away to get my drinking cup off of the table behind me. I take a good gulp and return.
Many years ago rotate Lockheed 1011 @ Caracas Venezuela at 250 feet over water 3 lights and bell came on. My capt was cool, bell off kept climbing up and did a 180 returned to departure runway rolled out and with the lights on cleared the rny. Water from fwd galley thru floor to lower compartment ands shorted electric sensors. Pan Am just got more experience.
jptq63 1
How about a simple conformal coating (think some basic automotive electronics…) on the PCBs…. Yeah, spend a whole $1.00 (after all the mark-ups) to build up some resistance to liquids.
lyn williams 1
Would that there were cheap simple conformal coating. The auto industry gave up on that approach decades ago. They use liquid detectors like is done on cell phones and lap tops so the warranty determination can be a minimal cost to them. That really doesn't help at FL350 when the coffee goes where it shouldn't.
Joseph Seaver 1
Oh wow.
cowboybob 1
now there is a feature that even a video game would not accept.
Remembrance of things past. 1980 New Year at Athis Mons (Paris) ATC center. A major telecom control rack was disabled, due to spillage of seawater from an oysters basket. The electronics engineer on duty left celebration, used plain water and dry cloth and when all was in order again, shared raw oysters with controllers. 40 years ago electronic devices were quite fragile but easy to maintain.
Neil Edwards 1
For me, this brought to mind the crash of Eastern flight 401 (an L-1011) in Dec 1972 on a night approach to MIA. It went down in the Everglades. As I recall, unable to confirm that all three gear were down, they went around for another approach while the flight engineer climbed down to physically check the suspect gear mechanism. Meanwhile, the autopilot had been disengaged (inadvertently?) and by the time they realized they were too low, the attempt to quickly regain altitude was too late. There were survivors, but many lives were lost. The cause of the initial problem was determined to be a burnt out indicator bulb caused most likely by spilled coffee in the cockpit. As usual though, several factors combined to cause this disaster. A book came out of this, as well as a TV movie, with Ernest Borgnine as a member of the flight crew.
Paul Miller 1
So the Cost of putting the Aircraft down someplace ? and the Passengers who have to be inconvenienced plus all sorts of other factors involved too ? and all because the flight crew could NOT be more careful with their drinks ??? Wonder IF they were given a talking to by their Chief Pilot ? I was always taught at flight school....IF it can happen ? then it will.
Bill Sowles 1
When I first heard of this incident, “Fate is the Hunter” immediately came to mind.
Flying the A350? NO SOUP FOR YOU!!
Dave Mathes 1
.....well, that sounds like a problem/solution thing.........
To drink or not to drink is the question, and also how?
While operating sensitive equipment in the 70's....the rule was simple... if you want to eat or drink....leave the room. That way no spill accidents. No liquids up front.
Serge Cormier 2
idgie57 3
My husband refuses to carry a cup of any kind into the cockpit. Nothing but bottled sodas for him, and he has a habit of screwing the lid back on so tightly in between sips, you'd swear it was factory sealed. He would prefer that his passengers do the same, but he doesn't own the jet, and thus often spends more post-flight time than he should have to scrubbing spots off the carpet, headliner, etc.
Serge Cormier 1
You want a coffee...TAKE a break \\\
lyn williams 1
Roger Lavoie 1
There shouldn't be any drinks in a highly tech cockpit at anytime!!!
Love the Japanese saying by G. Churchill.
I thought Airbus installed tables to avoid pilots placing cups on the center console!
toddshonts 0
Everybody seems to not see the obvious. A spilled cup of liquid in the cockpit should not be causing engines to shutdown. What if both engines shutdown? Should all liquids be banned from the cockpit? Fix the dam switches!
Sam Hernandez 0
Ozark Trail $6.97 @ Wal-Mart -- rates the same as Yeti.
a1brainiac 0
Cup holders ??
Serge Cormier -4
Maby we should have adults in the cockpit that can determine priorities. We are starting to see the level of maturity.......


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