back to article Fed-up air safety bods ban A350 pilots from enjoying cockpit coffees

The mighty EU Aviation Safety Agency has issued a formal safety directive banning A350 airliner pilots from putting cups of coffee anywhere near sensitive cockpit electronics. It appears that airline pilots simply can't help themselves when it comes to getting their caffeine fixes. The EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not locate the master switches overhead, so any liquids fall away from them instead of running inside them?

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Works for sloppy pilots but not a sudden downdraft from clear air windshear, they've been know to drop an aircraft '000s of feet in seconds, everything loose hits the roof.

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        I spilled my breakfast whisky on my last flight because of that.

        1. x 7

          Whisky and porridge

          Yum!

          1. SuperFrog
            Joke

            Whisky and porridge, must have been over Scotland? (Couldn't help it)

          2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
            Happy

            Not whisky and porrige, but cranachan - where (all praise to the mighty Scots!) they prove they can make anything more unhealthy. They took meusli, and made it much, much more delicious - but also much less healthy, and also a lot less breakfasty. Oats, toasted with honey, with raspberries, whisky and cream. Yum!

            I'm told deep frying Mars bars also makes them more delicious, and even less healthy than they started. And post-pub deep fried haggis pakoras for breakfast is a thing in my sister-in-law's highland family.

            1. paulf Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              I remember my first deep fried battered mars bar - procured on the way home after a night of extensive refreshment while at university. My early 20's metabolism couldn't cope with that much lard in one go - ahem I've got no chance now. It was tasty though!

            2. SmartAlec

              I heard a tale of a Scot that used to smoke Asbestos (probably "just" fibreglass insulation, you wont find Asbestos in fibre form like that would you?) in a pipe.

              Really unhealthy!

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          breakfast whisky

          Fond as I am of uisge beatha, not even *I* would drink it for breakfast..

          1. HildyJ Silver badge
            Pint

            Not with porridge

            I'd drink it as breakfast (with a splash of water, no ice) but not as a part of breakfast and certainly not mixed with breakfast.

          2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

            When BBC panel game "The Write Stuff" invited guests to provide parodies of Graham Greene's writing, I think everyone had a priest in the story breakfasting on cornflakes with whisky, in the background at least.

          3. Mi Tasol

            I will not drink it for breakfast either.

            I sip it and savour it

        3. paulf Silver badge
          Happy

          One of the things I like about flying is it's a valid excuse to drink in the morning <hic>

          Normally my breakfast fruit juice isn't that strong!

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            I got upgraded to business on a flight from London to Barcelona once. It's such a nice feeling to be handed a breakfast with eggs and bacon at 9am and say, "Yes, I'll have a glass of champagne please."

            Worst I ever saw was a Christmas breakfast my company sponsored for public health engineers in London. 6am we get to the pub in Smithfields. Get in to set up, guy who's organising has his first Guinness. As I was working I had half a glass of bubbles with orange juice with the brekkie, to show willing. Which I regretted when standing on the roof of a 20 storey hotel in a howling gale an hour later...

            But the organiser polished off 5 Guinnesses, as well as his bubbles, by 9am! At least he wasn't working that day. I saw several people drink several, then go to work - I always wondered how much design work happened that morning, that was badly compromised by engineers under the influence...

            1. paulf Silver badge
              Go

              Despite their many reported faults, especially in this parish regarding data security, British Airways are pretty good at dishing out the free drink on board in the front cabin. After a lot of flying for work the other half got us both bumped up to Business for our recent holiday. AYCE bacon baps, hash browns and wine at 0600 in the LHR T5 lounge. Then more breakfast on board washed down with several mini bottles of Champagne. The cabin crew kept bringing more just in case - it would have been rude to decline :)

              This all made it quite risky negotiating the green channel at Oslo Lufthavn in case our blood was taken into account for the duty free booze limit!

    2. ragnar

      I believe moving panels and switches around may require recertification in some cases.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I believe moving panels and switches around may require recertification in some cases."

        Probably all cases in reality; both for the aircraft and *all* pilots flying them.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Can't you just put a bit of string between the old switch position and the new one and then you can self certify that there is no charge

          1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

            Found the Boeing engineer...

    3. Plest

      Answer - Baby's sippy-cups!

      Buy the pilots sippy-cups, the sort you give to toddlers to stop them spilling their drinks!

    4. CountCadaver Bronze badge

      or use IP rated switches / enclosures? even IP44 would be enough, though IP68 would be better still...

    5. Rattlerjake
      Mushroom

      They can make a $50 cellphone that can be completely submerged in water, but can't "liquid" proof the electronics in a $360 million aircraft, imagine that!

      1. staringatclouds

        $360 million aircraft rarely fall out of someone's pocket to land in a toilet

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          but they do fall / crash into the ocean with more frequency that is preferable

          1. staringatclouds

            If they fall into the ocean I humbly submit that waterproofing the electronics in the cockpit isn't a primary concern

  2. Wellyboot Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Gobsmacked!

    Airbus, please, just waterproof the critical (that's all of the cockpit ones) electronics consoles to the not too obscure IP67 standard (IEC60529)

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Gobsmacked!

      Or you know, not add cost, weight and complexity and just ban all drinks from the cockpit?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Gobsmacked!

        Aviation safety is a combination of equipment and human factors. There's a lot to be said for allowing pilots to use a relatively benign stimulant when they need it. Them falling asleep or being dozy could also lead to dangerous issues. They're supposed to sleep well bedfore a flight obviously but personal worries could keep them up and their irregular schedules don't help. People are flawed by nature.

        And also: Spills can happen even when rules are followed. It's better to prevent damage if it happens.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Gobsmacked!

          There's a lot to be said for allowing pilots to use a relatively benign stimulant when they need it.

          True, but making them get up and walk around to get it, then drink it "away from the office", is probably also useful in terms of keeping them alert.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Gobsmacked!

            > True, but making them get up and walk around to get it, then drink it "away from the office", is probably also useful in terms of keeping them alert.

            IMHO, a 'no liquids in the cockpit' rule is a mistake because it means pilots leaving and entering the cockpit much more frequently, which means that hijackers/terrorists have more opportunity to storm the cockpit. Especially as they now know that when the pilot comes back the first officer will likely be emerging soon after and they can be ready to jump him.

            Spill-proof cups and instructing the stewardess to secure the lid before taking it in would be a better first measure and then, only if pilots prove themselves incapable of using a spill-proof cup, should we consider banning liquids in the cockpit.

            1. JetSetJim Silver badge

              Re: Gobsmacked!

              > if pilots prove themselves incapable of using a spill-proof cup, should we consider banning liquids in the cockpit

              I guarantee someone will fuck it up reasonably quickly

            2. Marty McFly
              Facepalm

              Re: Gobsmacked!

              > ... if pilots prove themselves incapable of using a spill-proof cup,...

              If that is indeed an issue, then perhaps we should review their ability to operate an aircraft.

              1. NorthIowan
                Facepalm

                Re: Gobsmacked!

                > ... if pilots prove themselves incapable of using a spill-proof cup,...

                You know there will be spills caused by pilots trying to remove the spill proof tops.

            3. eldakka Silver badge

              Re: Gobsmacked!

              it means pilots leaving and entering the cockpit much more frequently, which means that hijackers/terrorists have more opportunity to storm the cockpit.
              To receive their cups of coffee in the cockpit requires cabin-crew to prepare the coffee in the kitchen, then open the door to the cockpit to serve the coffee. Therefore I can't see how requiring the cockpit crew to leave through the same door that has to be opened to serve the coffee through anyway and drink their coffee in kitchen/crew rest area would lead to much of an increased risk cockpit-invasion as opposed to the recent incidents experienced by cockpit crew spilling drinks on the control panels.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Gobsmacked!

                One crew bring two cups of coffee as opposed to bot pilot and co-pilot leaving individually to each get a coffe means twice as many door operations. I assume you don't expect both pilots to leave together!

                Having said that, I suspect the incidence og hijacks/cockpit invasions is unlikely to increase based on that.

                1. BigBear

                  Re: Gobsmacked!

                  Actually, four times as many door openings — each pilot must open the door again to return to the cockpit.

                  1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
                    Paris Hilton

                    Re: Gobsmacked!

                    Nope, still only two times as much or is the stewardess staying in there with the pilots for the rest of the flight?

                2. eldakka Silver badge
                  Trollface

                  Re: Gobsmacked!

                  Well, maybe both pilots can take their coffee break at the same time, so they both exit and later re-enter the cockpit together.

            4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
              Paris Hilton

              Re: Gobsmacked!

              stewardess

              You mean the "trolly dolly?" The 1970's called....

              1. XSV1
                Paris Hilton

                Trolly dolly?

                The politically correct term is "Flight Safety Attendant", as opposed to "Flying Mattress" or "Trolly Dolly".

                1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                  Re: Trolly dolly?

                  Thanks. I've not flown in a while!

                  I see at least 7 people missed the point, ie the assumption that cabin crew are all female though :-)

                2. Chris 239

                  Re: Trolly dolly?

                  You mean I can't refer to them as "Tart with a cart" any more? Please say it ain't so!

                  I was told this alternative by a stewardess so I reckon it's ok.

        2. Zarno Bronze badge

          Re: Gobsmacked!

          Would also prevent damage from much more caustic substances in the event of air sickness.

        3. VE3ID

          Re: Gobsmacked!

          Why not provide pilots with caffeine catheters?

      2. x 7

        Re: Gobsmacked!

        Just ban all humans from the cockpit and rely on the infallible autopilot

        1. Symon Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Gobsmacked!

          " infallible autopilot" until he starts to deflate...

        2. batfink Silver badge

          Re: Gobsmacked!

          As they say in the classics: one man and a dog...

        3. JClouseau

          Re: Gobsmacked!

          Is Tesla making airliners now ?

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Gobsmacked!

            Is Tesla making airliners now ?

            I believe that Tesla's "autopilot" is highly infallible.

            Just like something that is highly inflammable cannot catch fire....

        4. Stork Silver badge

          Re: Gobsmacked!

          I read "inflatable autopilot" and thought of a quite silly old film

          1. Mog_X
            Happy

            Re: Gobsmacked!

            Surely you can't be serious?

            1. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: Gobsmacked!

              Yes I am and don't call me Shirley.

              .

              .

              .

              Sorry, obvious I know.

      3. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Gobsmacked!

        Or just require the people in the cockpit to use spill proof drinking vessels. Can't be that hard to source them, try The Range.

        Having pilots awake and at the controls must be better than them nodding off or leaving the cockpit for 5 minutes to have a coffee.

        1. Teiwaz Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Gobsmacked!

          require the people in the cockpit to use spill proof drinking vessels

          "Hostess! Fetch the Captains Beano Bear sippy cup"

          1. Cederic Silver badge

            Re: Gobsmacked!

            "..and then could you give the co-pilot his bottle."

      4. CountCadaver Bronze badge

        Re: Gobsmacked!

        cost...the cost of IP67 rated switchgear is miniscule vs the cost of an X million pound aircraft....likely less than 0.1% of the total aircraft cost...

      5. Mi Tasol

        Re: Gobsmacked!

        Like Boeing, Airbus has a history of pretending that problems do not exist and then taking action at a snails pace. The inadequate pitot heaters that dropped the Air France A340 in the Atlantic were well known as was the same problem on earlier models right back to the A300. A modification to fix the problem had been designed but was low priority. In the case of the A300s many operators were told no-one else has this problem for a number of years until someone asked at an operators conference where the Regulators were present and many had the same problem. Regulator action followed within days and a fix very soon after.

    2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: Gobsmacked!

      You'd assume they're already IP6 because you can legislate against dust ingress.

    3. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Gobsmacked!

      Airbus, please, just waterproof the critical (that's all of the cockpit ones) electronics consoles to the not too obscure IP67 standard (IEC60529)

      I call a foul for using common sense.

      .

      The problem with common sense is that sense never ain't common - Lazarus Long.

    4. baud Bronze badge

      Re: Gobsmacked!

      From last time the subject of spills in Airbus cockpits was discussed, apparently the electronics should be splash proof. But apparently sometime the seals are removed by maintenance crews.

      https://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/all/2019/09/13/condor_a330_coffee_radio/#c_3870103

    5. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Gobsmacked!

      Airbus, please, just waterproof the critical (that's all of the cockpit ones) electronics consoles to the not too obscure IP67 standard (IEC60529)

      Nice as that would be, the problem then is the repeated testing one would have to do each and every single time the consoles were opened for repairs or maintenance of whatever is inside. And it’d have to be tested for IP67 compliance periodically anyway. and that sounds kinda tricky to do reliably in situ in an aircraft.

      Without that kind of regimen it is likely that it would be treated as if the consoles were waterproof, whilst some misfitted panel or torn membrane meant it wasn’t. That could be very, very much worse...

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Gobsmacked!

        Nice as that would be, the problem then is the repeated testing one would have to do each and every single time the consoles were opened for repairs or maintenance of whatever is inside.

        As someone who had some involvement in model boats (at a "snotty-nosed ultra-annoying spectator-only but still always-near-and-interrupting kid" level), it's trivial to seal up individual modules in their own sealed box, thus when the console is opened the only devices that would need testing are those opened.

        As someone who used to work on ancient colour TVs, it's trivial to make various modules that can be absolutely sealed and unplugged as needed, for servicing/refurbishing/testing back at base. So if a certain unit becomes faulty, unplug it, toss it in the "to be fuxed1 bin", pull one out of the "works fine" bag and plug it in.

        Honda was able to make reliable connectors in the 70s and earlier that survive on trail bikes in all they go through (heat, water, dust, vibration, fuel/oil spills, bladder spills...), as was Suzuki etc etc etc... Maybe not so much Lucas but any one else could. I'm sure the airline industries can make reliable connectors that plug in with little effort and effectively clean and seal themselves.

        These problems are solved already. Have been for decades. And with the "5+ 9s" and multi-million-uses-before-failure that we expect from cheap consumer devices, I'm pretty sure any manufacturer with a reasonable reputation can churn out a billion switches that'll get used millions of times a second and still outlive the aircraft designer's great-great-great-great-grandkids. Hell, I still use the clock radio I brought with half a week's paper-run money when I was a teen, although I expect if I tried to play a tape in it I'd find at least one of the belts has perished.

        1 Contraction of "Can be fixed" and "It's probably f.....", but the determination was to be made back at base.

    6. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Gobsmacked!

      Airbus, please, just waterproof the critical (that's all of the cockpit ones) electronics consoles to the not too obscure IP67 standard (IEC60529)

      They might be able to just place a plastic cover over the panel such as used to wrap sandwiches? Or just insist that the pilots use sippy cups like the ones for little children.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: Gobsmacked!

        The simplest solution is some form of spill-proof cup. Given the position of the switches, it isn't just the pilots who are at risk of catastrophic spillage - a fumbled delivery by the flight attendant could have the same effect. Sealed vessels are therefore the easiest and cheapest option. There are loads of them on the market, though pressure-relief might require a bit more thought.

        There is also the marketing opportunity - "buy our aviation-grade cups, as used by our pilots!!"

  3. lglethal Silver badge
    Go

    Maybe Pilot's should be given their drinks in those no-spill sippy cups that we use for babies and toddlers. Might cut down on the number of spillages, since they cant seem to hold on to their current cups of the brown stuff properly...

    1. theblackhand Silver badge
      Trollface

      I prefer to drink my whiskey from glass - I really noticed the plastic taste when we added it to the children's bottles to help them sleep.

      What? It's not as if Airbus pilots are allowed to do anything important so they may as well have a drink while their computers tell them no.

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Joke

        In the words of my old lecturer - The perfect cockpit has two occupants - a pilot and a dog. It's the Pilot's job to feed the Dog. It's the Dog's job to bite the Pilot, if he tries to touch anything.

  4. alain williams Silver badge

    Put coffee in non-spill containers

    Is that really that hard ? There are many such cups - should be able to get them cheap from what is left of Mothercare.

    1. DontFeedTheTrolls Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Put coffee in non-spill containers

      And break the tradition of the Stewardess knocking on the door with a tray of open steaming coffee cups?

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Put coffee in non-spill containers

        Or break the tradition of the steaming Stewardess knocking on the door with a tray of open coffee cups?

        Bow chick a wow wow...

        I know, i'm going now!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Put coffee in non-spill containers

          A few flights I've been on were full-male flight crew, so that tradition has been broken in at least one way.

          Service was impeccable, because the flight crew was professional, just like always.

          In the end, they could crew the plane with Cthulhu's henchbeings, as long as we get from A-to-B without fuss and I get snax and a G&T.

      2. x 7

        Re: Put coffee in non-spill containers

        The stewardess may be open and steaming but thats nothing to do with the coffee

  5. Andy Non Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Only obvious now?

    It is blindingly obvious that you should not have drinks in the proximity of sensitive electronic equipment. That was one of the first things I was taught both during physics "A" level forty years ago and also when I started working with expensive computers many years ago.

    Spill coffee on your PC keyboard today and you can simply replace it for a couple of quid, but spilling coffee on a cockpit control panel is just asking for trouble of the death-making variety.

    "No drinks in proximity to the control panel" - This should be included in the first flying lesson before a pilot takes the controls.

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: Only obvious now?

      Only problem, the first lessons are in a single engine small plane. Not much chance of getting a coffee there... ;)

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Only obvious now?

        If you are going on a long flight then take a flask along. A lot of people do, and a thing called a Little John or a Lady J.

        The average cheap rental that is used for dual instruction though, design from the 50s not much damage could be done by liquid. Gets a bit more interesting in a Cirrus though.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Only obvious now?

          Regarding Cirrus: when the SF50 was being designed, lots of thought went into making a luxury feel for the interior. Part of that involved illuminated cup holders. They had some difficulty in finding a good source that looked right and fit the cockpit (many were too deep to fit the available room).

          There was one candidate cupholder that had perfect specs. Supposedly it was rejected because it wouldn't hold a large Mountain Dew bottle. That requirement didn't make sense until you realize:

          * Mountain Dew bottle is yellow-green.

          * the large bottle has an opening of about 2" diameter.

          * flights can last up to ~4hr

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Unhappy

            Re: Only obvious now?

            Those large bottles no longer have the big necks, they're down to the tiny ones now, probably to save a pence per hundred on caps.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
              Joke

              Re: Only obvious now?

              Apparently that's only for the US market as it was deemed the tiny neck diameter was sufficient for normal usage. Meanwhile, the rest of the world still gets the wide necked bottles...

              1. Zarno Bronze badge
                Paris Hilton

                Re: Only obvious now?

                Not too far off, but intake vs outflow.

                From what I can tell, it was in part to limit consumption flow rate. Just like removing the 3L from circulation.

                Because nobody would ever buy a second 2L bottle and just drink an extra liter total per day.

                Paris, because she's seen it all.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Only obvious now?

        "Only problem, the first lessons are in a single engine small plane. Not much chance of getting a coffee there... ;)"

        You saying that small cheap planes don't have cup holders for when passing a drive through Starbucks where they discourage drivers (pilots) from drinking and driving or throwing used cups from their vehicles?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The captain would like to apologise for latte arrival of this flight.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You should be grounded for that joke.

      1. Giovani Tapini Silver badge
        Joke

        and you will be roasted for yours....

        1. Khaptain Silver badge

          Those quips are grinding me down....

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I'm sure more will filter through.

            1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

              It would seem that no-one else has the beans to attempt it.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                It's only a matter of time before someone perks up with a new one.

                1. Zarno Bronze badge
                  Coat

                  The dregs of this one are starting to show.

                  Maybe time to read the tea leaves and find an answer?

          2. Korev Silver badge
            Coat

            We should filter them out ASAP

            1. Funkymunky

              No need, there is only grounds for a mild roast.

    2. Korev Silver badge
      Coat

      Just wondering if it only affect European aircraft or if Americano ones are affected too

      1. IT's getting kinda boring

        With at least one American aircraft type, it will be pitching around so much the coffee won't stay in the cup long enough to get to the cockpit.

        1. Alister Silver badge
    3. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      That's an..

      Awful joke and I'd like to espresso my disappointment at it.

  7. imanidiot Silver badge

    Easier said than done

    Pilots need to dribk something, this ban effectively means the pilot flying can't have a drink unless someone else takes over PiF duty. This can be rather problematic, especially when the third man on long flights is on his rest break and in a crew bunk at the back of the plane.

    1. Julz Silver badge

      Re: Easier said than done

      Don't the pilots have other sorts of breaks when they can get rid of excess fluids. So...

      1. A K Stiles Silver badge

        Re: Easier said than done

        To my understanding, when a pilot needs a break they can leave their co-pilot in charge, and switch out with a senior member of cabin crew who is there to ensure the remaining pilot is awake and functional. So you could readily have the coffee break around the same time, or use a no-spill mug as has been suggested repeatedly elsewhere in this section.

  8. batfink Silver badge

    The problem is obvious from the picture

    Looking closely at the picture, it's clear that there are no cupholders. So, clearly the pilots need to balance their cups on some handy piece of the control panel when they need their hands free for grabbing the controls/stewardesses/etc.

    So, all Airbus need to do to remediate the problem is to install some cupholders. I'll bet that in Boeing cockpits, being made in America, there are about 20 of them.

    1. Julz Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: The problem is obvious from the picture

      Would they be imperial or metric cup holders?

      1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Re: The problem is obvious from the picture

        You jest but that was genuinely the problem with the unscheduled A330 coffee-electronics interface event. The cockpit had US cup holders fitted but the puny Euro disposable coffee cups were too small to fit. Cue captain trying to put his cuppa on his tray table and whoops...

        1. A K Stiles Silver badge
          Coffee/keyboard

          Re: The problem is obvious from the picture

          Tray tables seem almost designed to dump the tea/coffee in your lap, from cattle seat experience. fortunately it was breakfast and we were heading into a warm climate so the emergency change shorts in the carry-on were a suitable change of clothing.

    2. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: The problem is obvious from the picture

      I'll bet that in Boeing cockpits, being made in America, there are about 20 of them.

      I believe the highest cupholder to seat ratio was achieved in the Dodge Caravan, 20 cupholders for 7 seats! To be fair this was partly due to the number of ways the seats could be configured.

  9. Steve Knox
    Thumb Down

    0/10 Would Not Buy

    A $350 million price tag, and it doesn't even come with cupholders!?

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: 0/10 Would Not Buy

      Exactly my thinking. I wouldn't buy an airliner without cup holders with three levels of anti-spill redundancy built in, even my 125cc scooter has a cup holder inside the glove box lid.

      1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        Re: 0/10 Would Not Buy

        Even my desktop came with an auto-eject cupholder ...

    2. JetSetJim Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: 0/10 Would Not Buy

      If it's commonplace to charge for a warning light on the 737Max that would've helped prevent 2 crashes, then sure as shit they're charging for cup holders

    3. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: 0/10 Would Not Buy

      Of course not! Why would they want CD ROM drives in the cockpit?

      OK, OK. I know the drill :)

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: 0/10 Would Not Buy

        OK, OK. I know the drill :)

        That's getting a bit boring y'know...

        (Yes, mine's the one next to his..)

  10. Korev Silver badge
    Coat

    Boeing too?

    I was wondering if the same problem affects Boeing aircraft, then I remembered that the Jumbo pilots would just drink with their trunks

    1. Andy Non Silver badge

      Re: Boeing too?

      Groan. Worth the upvote for the worst pun of the week.

  11. Mike Shepherd
    Meh

    Euphemisms

    a forced landing with consequent damage to the aeroplane and injury to occupants

    The usual word is crash.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Euphemisms

      Doesn't that depend on whether you can walk away?

      1. jonathan keith Silver badge

        Re: Euphemisms

        That's the difference between a fatal crash and a controlled crash, or "landing".

        1. DavidRa

          Re: Euphemisms

          As opposed to the "CFIT" designation - Controlled Flight Into Terrain.

      2. Paul Crawford Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Euphemisms

        What is it the RAF used to say? A good landing is one you walk away from, a great landing is one you can use the plane again.

  12. Slx

    It's fairly sloppy practice to drink coffee over control surfaces and complicated systems, but in an environment like a cockpit, I would also expect those surfaces, particularly for anything fundamental to be able to survive a scenario like a coffee spill. We're not talking about a production studio where a spill might screw up someone's morning recording session, or a server that takes down the office network, these are life and death systems and should be fully IP rated for the kinds of hazards they're faced with.

    Are we really getting to the stage that an aircraft could be crashed by a a cup of coffee or a bottle of water sloshed over the controls ?!!?

    1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker Bronze badge
      Stop

      In my line of work...

      1) If it goes in the engine compartment, it must be sealed against all manner of dust/exhaust and fluids (e.g.: fuel, coolant, oil, water) and still capable of higher temperatures and shock than crew-area items.

      2) If the vehicle is amphibious, just about every electronic box must be sealed against water (assume salty seawater) and corrosion-resistant to salt spray/fog.

      3) Everything else* needs to be less weight and lower cost, so HA! -- good luck not spilling anything! (I don't care how robust those boxes look; I don't trust anything to be properly sealed. Too many points of potential failure and too many assembly steps.)

      * The cabling is designed to be pretty well sealed, usually. Except for any terminal lugs that just get a loose shock-prevention cap that doesn't pretend to seal anything.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So they picked the right day to give up coffee?

    1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker Bronze badge
      Coat

      But not the right week to quit smoking, snorting crack, or sniffing glue!

      (Getting my coat with the lemon drops for my sugar addiction. You can have the other stuff.)

  14. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

    If you pop over to Airbus' virtual cockpit viewer at https://ccntservice.airbus.com/apps/cockpits/a350/ you can see part of the problem: there _are_ no good cup holders. But wait, there's more: there' are pull-out keyboards (as shown in this from an A380: https://airbus-h.assetsadobe2.com/is/image/content/dam/products-and-solutions/interior/A380_Airbus_cockpit.JPG?wid=1920&fit=fit,1&qlt=85,0) So pull out the keyboard, put your coffee on the nice sturdy bit furthest from the side-stick controller, and ... oops!

    1. Not also known as SC

      How on earth do the pilots get into their seats? Do they slide back past the centre console or does the chair pivot to the side? There doesn't look much room for either motion.

      1. cpm86

        Yes, same question.

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge
          Joke

          Dukes of Hazard style through the window. The slide over the bonnet is an optional, though

      2. Tylerama

        https://youtu.be/vRqSpGWHelU?t=152

        That should explain it better..

        1. Not also known as SC
          Pint

          Excellent. Thank you.

    2. Donk

      There seems to be one for each seat, in line with the back of the seat on the side panel?

      Seems plenty good enough to me.

  15. MJI Silver badge

    Is tea safe?

    That is more important.

    1. Funkymunky

      Re: Is tea safe?

      No, it leaves much to be desired.

      Arrgh, now I have images of the Open, Steamy Stewardess being teabagged. No wonder the place is called a cockpit.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is tea safe?

      Yes as long as you aren't on a boat in the Boston Harbour.

    3. The Real Tony Smith

      Re: Is tea safe?

      Safe tea is always important <groan>

  16. Paddy
    Facepalm

    <Quote>

    “Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time.”

    ― Terry Pratchett, Hogfather

  17. LeahroyNake Silver badge

    How hard is it

    It is not that difficult to make office machinery spill proof. I have seen modern copiers covered in coffee, random liquids and even an air con failure that dropped all its liquid over a £10k Machine. They were all working fine, No damage and after a quick clean or a few days unplugged to dry out no further issues. Coffee stinks after a few days of festering but that's not my problem.

    You would think making a center console at least splash proof would take mimimum effort. Almost as easy as providing spill proof cups as previously mentioned.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: How hard is it

      Not in the airline industry, where everything has to be expensively certified and continually tested - and where everything also requires regular scheduled maintenance. There are no simple answers here. Everything you do has safety implications. Make rules too onerous, and pilots will cheat - because the cockpit is their office every single day. Anything waterproof has still got to be waterproof after the third maintenance check and the twentieth of the maybe hundred in its lifetime.

      1. AdrianMontagu

        Re: How hard is it

        Waterproffing is used in boats - radios, nav equipment etc. Often shown in boat shows working in a fishtank.

    2. Kiwi Silver badge

      Re: How hard is it

      You would think making a center console at least splash proof would take mimimum effort. Almost as easy as providing spill proof cups as previously mentioned.

      4 of my motorbikes have used the same aux switch. It has been with me for over 200,000 miles, many of them in rain weather. The switch is neither waterproof nor sealed (and was only intended to be temporary till I could find something better but in near 20 years I haven't needed that!).

      Back around '12 or '13 I worked on an "Excel" branded laptop. Was the only one I ever saw, had some interesting tricks for hiding case screws, was very near impossible to find any documentation on (some in German IIRC, perhaps another European language other than French or English). The thing had an isolated keyboard well that, should it take a spill, would not allow coffee into the rest of the machine. On the top of this was a waterproof socket the keyboard plugged into. Dunno if the keyboard was easily washed, but in the event of a spill it meant none of the rest of the unit got a drink.

      According to the owners it was NOT an expensive unit (though still the only one I've ever seen!).

      I do get that aircraft have a higher test regieme, but waterproof switches aren't exactly expensive these days and reliable switches aren't exactly rare. If a cheap one can survive 20 years of the vibration and soaking and dust and me futzing with things and the odd electrical issue I'm sure there's something around suitable for an aircraft.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How hard is it

      "They were all working fine, No damage and after a quick clean or a few days unplugged to dry out no further issues."

      Well there you go. Next time when on your way to the Galapagos, just ask the pilot to unplug it and shake the plain off to dry.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not just replace the control panels in the A350 with iphones as they are IP 68 rated ?

    Mind you it could end being more expensive than the original equipment given their price.

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

      You Are Jodie Whittaker.

      & I claim my five pounds.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o73wwJEIQdg

      1. Psmo Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: You Are Jodie Whittaker.

        Who?

  19. Jean Le PHARMACIEN

    If this was a car

    I cannot believe how many times journos have criticised cars for lack of cupholders. Personally, any chance of usually hot liquid in a car on road could spell serious injury to occupants/loss of control. I.e. no cupholders for front seat car occupants in my view

    Aircraft: ditto plus 100-300 people at risk. If you need a drink (and let's not forget how predictable turbulence is) not at the controls. Cockpit seats are not wetrooms

    Sounds harsh, but car and truck drivers should not be drinking at the controls and there's lots of sensitive electronics in modern cars/trucks

    1. Kiwi Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: If this was a car

      Sounds harsh, but car and truck drivers should not be drinking at the controls and there's lots of sensitive electronics in modern cars/trucks

      Given the increasing use of touch screens for controls in cars, I'm quite sure we don't have much to worry about with people drinking.

      I've only had one car with cup holders (or rather a bottle holder - not for alcohol). Previously I'd keep the bottle in my lap, capped except when I had a clear moment to take a swig. Much safer than trying to find somewhere to stop, pull off, sip, pull back into traffic... And the more I drink the more likely I am to need a "rest stop" after a couple of hours, rather than driving the range of the tank :)

      (I personally would argue strongly for the cup holders to be fitter ABOVE the touch-screen stuff in cars...)

      Cockpit seats are not wetrooms

      Well... There was this one flight I was on that has some excitement during landing. If the passenger compartment was anything to go by...

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: If this was a car

        "Given the increasing use of touch screens for controls in cars, I'm quite sure we don't have much to worry about with people drinking."

        I agree. The danger from having to look away from the road to use the touch screen is a much bigger safety issue.

        1. quxinot Silver badge

          Re: If this was a car

          The ideal interface for a car is one that you can interact with without opening your eyes.

          Hrm. That may not be the best idea, now that I'm thinking about it...

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: If this was a car

            The ideal interface for a car is one that you can interact with without opening your eyes.

            These exist. They're commonly called a "spouse".

            Unfortunately, they often get quite upset if you won't open your eyes while interacting with them, but it can be safely done (so long as you do all the cooking)

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    cant stop moaning about the cubicle.

    Was told the story many years ago that ICL made those computers which blended the keyboard into the desk with all the computer gubbins underneath. Probably to save 50p on a cable.

    One spilt coffee on the keyboard and it all went kaput.

    Bit like ICL who had been watching too much doctor who.

    Im not suprised all the drunk pilots try to sober up by downing coffee at the work cubicle.

    They should probably make the plane openplan like everyone else has had to suffer since the cubicle glory days.

  21. eldakka Silver badge
    Coat

    takes the form of a "liquid prohibited zone" inside the A350's cockpit
    Does this mean no more shtupping of the cabin crew in the cockpit?

    1. Psmo Silver badge

      Or cabin crew, given that most of them are mostly water.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "Does this mean no more shtupping of the cabin crew in the cockpit?"

      You have to be a yoga master to "make your own entertainment" in a modern airliner cockpit. The space is as cramped at cattle class in some.

      Now if you want to tie up a lav for a few minutes, Deviant Ollam has a good presentation on doing the wild thing in many different models of aircraft. He even has tips on how to block the lock with Legos so staff can't bypass it to poke their head in to order you back to your seats. Not that they bother. Better the lav than trying to use one or two of those thin blankets to try and get away with a little naughty in the main cabin.

  22. G R Goslin

    What is it with all this drinking?

    I'm a bit surprised that anyone gets to drink on the job. Many years ago when I served a an engineering apprenticeship, you'd get a five minute tea break in the morning when the tea trolley came round, and nothing in the afternoon. I don't recall anyone drinking in the meantime. There were drinking fountains in the shop, but seldom used, and no-one ever spilt a drinking fountain. If you can go through eight hours of kip without getting up for a drink, I'm sure the same would apply in the day. It's not exactly a manual labour environment, so you're not replacing the sweat of toil.

    1. Olivier2553 Silver badge

      Re: What is it with all this drinking?

      Air conditioning aboard makes the air very dry and you need to drink substantially when you are on a plane, this is even more needed for the pilots because keeping hydrated is part of keeping in good health.

  23. Agent Tick
    Pint

    Best Idea....

    ... charge pilots $2500 for a spill just to help their attitude correction - it will help!

  24. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

    "the right-hand pilot in the picture above"

    properly termed: First Officer, Jet rated

    a/ second+subordinate pilot sits on the right, and is virtually always a "First Officer" (can be a slumming captain, but still subordinate for flight duration)

    b/ cuff braid indicates this chap's rank + jet rating:

    1 ring -- First Officer, Prop

    2 rings -- First Officer, Jets

    3 rings -- Captain, Prop

    4 rings -- Captain, Jets

    Source: dad ran this gamut and in that order, ending up check captain on 2 (iirc) types of jet

  25. Gra4662

    Seattle

    Given that Starbucks and Boeing both hail from Seattle you would have thought they could have worked up a solution, am sure that Starbucks could come up with a plane that doesn’t want to kill you

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Seattle

      But would you really trust Boeing to make a cup of coffee that doesn't kill you?

  26. Arachnoid

    NASA

    Maybe they should approach NASA for a solution as this never seems to happen in space and they have lots of floaty stuff up there near the electronics.

    1. dfsmith

      Re: NASA

      Let's work this out:

      Shuttle launch $440M for 7 people -> $63M per ticket.

      But...

      Distance traveled (SS Discovery) 148Mmiles (39 flights) -> 3.8Mmiles per ticket.

      Giving $17/mile.

      Cattle class flight is about $400 LHR->SFO (5300miles) -> $0.08/mile.

      So NASA is about 200 times more expensive per passenger mile*. They can probably get a higher class of waterproofing for the mark-up.

      * I'm counting the flight crew as passengers as well.

  27. eaadams

    "Fate is the Hunter" anyone? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fate_Is_the_Hunter_(film)

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      I didn't know that there is a film, but I read the book at least once a year - a good reminder of just how far things have come in a short time.

  28. old_nic

    Bit of clingfilm solved the problem for my remote controls and keyboard

  29. AdrianMontagu

    Wasn't there a film some 50 years ago where the plane crashed and it was finally deduced that it was a coffee spill that caused the accident?

    Have we learned nothing?

    What about if the air systems fail and we end up with condensation water dripping around the electronics?

    There are various solutions to these problems.

    Banning coffee in the cockpit should not be one of them.

  30. 2Fat2Bald

    not the most dignified outcome - but why not give them sippie cups?

    With a nice, strong screw on lid they'll only ever dribble if turned over. Which has to help.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Simple solution.

    Fly upside down while drinking coffee. If you do a barrel roll (NOT an aileron roll!) you can also avoid needing to turn the cup 180 and trying to drink with your upper lip.

    Mines the one with my manuscript to "1001 Smart Ideas" in the pocket. I'm yet to find a publisher...

    1. Arachnoid

      Upside down

      Using the flaperoonies

  32. Hopalong

    Predicted 56 years ago

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fate_Is_the_Hunter_(film)

    Remember seeing the film many many years ago, just one of those films which stuck in the memory.

  33. AK565

    Have to admit, this is prob the most entertaining article I've read here.

    Banning coffee? I assume some time next week there'll be a follow-up about how a decaffeinated flight crew increases passenger safety.

    Seriously, the comic material is endless. I wouldn't be surprised if this wound up being a Key & Peele (sp?) skit.

  34. sketharaman

    I first read about this risk in the book entitled LOW PRESSURE by Sandra Brown. One of the engines shuts down. Root Cause Analysis nails copilot, who spilled coffee on the instrument panel, then technician who disabled another instrument while wiping it clean, and a series of snafus. Takeaway was, for an aircraft to crash, many things have to go wrong at the same time.

  35. Celeste Reinard

    Preventive Punishment*

    First of all, this is what happens when them flyboys with their funny sigarettes use the cupholder as an ashtray - and don't have them their ouisky from a biberon.

    Secondly, first you shoot their wife (or kids, pet frog, whatever makes them happy), and tell them that that is what is going to happen when they spill their coffee on the boss's gear. With as added bonus that it is very good for l'esprit de corps, and prevents any pissing contest / stops them pissing off their colleague's in the first place.

    Thirdly, what was wrong with Flying Lizards? They just fly, and don't drink. Like cacti.

    ---

    * A.J. Ayer, The Central Questions of Philosophy, p. 237, 1973, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London

  36. AbeSapian

    Fate is the Hunter

    Apparently they've never seen the movie Fate is the Hunter.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fate_Is_the_Hunter_(film)

  37. TheBigCat

    Crazy!

    For a 100 million dollar plane full of people they should have a better control panel. It should be spill proof for sure. Also what if a bird hits a window in a rainstorm and water comes in during landing. Will the plane crash?

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Use a cup. woyk a top.

    Ok.

  39. Richard Altmann
    Coffee/keyboard

    three things:

    I never learnt about an airplanecrash caused by spilled coffee in the cockpit.

    Why did it take EU Aviation Safety Agencys X- Decades to warn about this hazard?

    Airbus produces DoomsDay Helicopters and has not come up with coffee spill proof cockpits?

    No Aviator, but seriously: is there no coffeecupholder in a jetliner cockpit?

    BS!!

  40. rmstock

    fragile equipment

    Sounds like Chinese made laptop (touchpad/mouse/keyboard) technology has entered the A350 cockpit

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