For the benefit of readers overseas, most localities in America have so-called "open container laws", forbidding the presence of opened bottles or other containers of alcohol in many public places, usually including vehicles in motion.
In the case of Airbus airliners, I'm referring to open containers in the cockpit holding any liquid, not just alcohol, because they seem to have a problem with spills affecting their electronics.
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.
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One of the incidents involved a Delta Air Lines A350-900 en route to Seoul on 21 January, which diverted to Fairbanks after its right-hand Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine shut down, while a similar event occurred to another carrier in November last year.
Some 15min before the Delta shutdown, FlightGlobal has learned, a drink was spilled on the centre pedestal between the two pilot seats, primarily on the integrated control panel for engine-start and electronic centralised aircraft monitor functions.
The right-hand engine shut down and the crew attempted a restart, which was unsuccessful, and the crew chose to divert, subsequently landing safely in Alaska.
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The previous incident, on 9 November 2019, occurred about 1h after tea was spilled on the centre pedestal, FlightGlobal understands.
This also involved the in-flight shutdown of the right-hand Trent XWB engine, and while restart was attempted the powerplant would not remain operational for any length of time.
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A350 operators have been advised that both incidents involved “liquid spillage” on the centre pedestal but the root causes of the in-flight shutdowns are still under investigation.
UK investigators probed an incident last February during which a Thomas Cook Airlines Airbus A330-200 was forced to divert to Shannon after a coffee spillage in the cockpit led to significant radio communication problems.
There's more at the link.
The old saying (modernized and popularized by Ian Fleming's James Bond) warns us that "once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action". In this case, I don't think it's enemy action: but three incidents in which spilt liquids are followed by electrical/electronic problems certainly gives one pause for thought. What's more, the cost of those incidents (measured in terms of added flight hours, diversion and landing costs, extra fuel, repairs, etc.) probably runs into at least five figures every time, and possibly six.
I would have expected Airbus to engineer its flight deck consoles to be proof against such spills, but perhaps they thought pilots and flight crew would exercise a higher standard of care. Be that as it may, I hope they're urgently looking into this. It's something that might affect an aircraft's ETOPS rating. Besides, I don't want to hear the pilot say "Oops!" next time I fly, and see sparks coming from beneath the cockpit door!