The spilling of drinks in the A350 cockpit caused engine failures. After a temporary protection contraption, Airbus is now implementing a permanent solution.
They were mistakes, but they were not without danger. Pilots from Delta Air Lines and Asiana spilled drinks on the centre console in the cockpit of their Airbus A350. In both cases, one of the engines of the long-haul aircraft failed. The controls where the liquid spilled were related to the engines. In January 2020, it was announced that Airbus was investigating the incidents.
In February, the aircraft manufacturer then temporarily defined a zone in the cockpit where liquids are prohibited: the centre console, the telescopic tables of the pilot and co-pilot, the area of the two seats adjacent to the centre console and the third seat in the cockpit. In April, Airbus introduced a protection contraption for the critical elements of the centre console. The cover must be removed during critical flight phases such as take-off and landing approach, but must be used in all other flight phases.
Airlines have eight months time
Now the European aircraft manufacturer has found a permanent solution. «A new liquid-resistant integrated control panel for the A350 has been developed and certified in July 2020», an Airbus spokeswoman told aeroTELEGRAPH. Newly produced aircraft will now be delivered with the new liquid-resistant controls.
Airbus A350s that are already in service will have to be retrofitted. The airlines have eight months time to do this, as the European aviation authority EASA wrote in an airworthiness directive on September 3. Airbus A350-900 and A350-1000 of all serial numbers will be affected, except for the new aircraft that are already properly equipped by default.
More than 350 aircraft affected
According to the Airbus spokeswoman, the installation of the new control panel can take place during routine maintenance and will not affect operations. Around the world, Airbus has delivered 329 A350-900 and 43 A350-1000 as of the end of August, and all of these aircraft are in service, apart from temporary Covid-19 related breaks.
Most of the Airbus A350 in the skies are operated by Singapore Airlines (48 A350-900) and Qatar Airways (34 A350-900 and 15 A350-1000). Other large operators of the aircraft type include Cathay Pacific and Lufthansa. The latter airline is considering to increase its orders for the A350.