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.
FlightGlobal understands that the airframer is to discuss the matter with operators on 30 January, and will issue a transmission on recommended practices for handling beverages on the flightdeck.
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 (above).
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.
Flight-recorder analysis showed the electronic engine control had commanded closure of a high-pressure shut-off valve after inconsistent output from the integrated control panel.
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.
The aircraft diverted, landing safely, and the engines could be restarted once the twinjet was on the ground. Flight-recorder analysis indicated a high-pressure shut-off valve closure command.
While the identity of this carrier has not been specified, one of South Korean carrier Asiana’s A350-900s, operating between Seoul and Singapore, diverted to Manila on 9 November last year.
In both incidents the aircraft underwent replacement of systems including the integrated control panel and electronic engine control. Relevant components from both aircraft have undergone examination.
Airbus is probing the events in co-operation with suppliers Rolls-Royce and Leonardo. 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.