Presumably follow the American car model and have several 64oz drink holders per pilot.
Although spilling a McSlurpy on Boeing's electronics probably improves airworthiness
Airbus has solved the ongoing problem of cack-handed airline pilots spilling coffee over vital cockpit electronics – with a plastic cover. Following “inadvertent liquid spillage” on engine control panels in the flight decks of Airbus A350 airliners, the Franco-German-Spanish multinational company has also waterproofed engine …
to "pass through" liquids to the floor through drain holes in the metal boxes for decades.. At least for the intercom panels that I worked on.
One US airline went through a "waterproofing" retrofit company-wide more than a decade ago. gaskets around the knobs. Plus, aircraft circuit boards are required to be "conformal coated" to also mitigate humidity and corrosion. Do a repair? Put more coating back on.
Audio control/intercom systems on single-aisle aircraft are sourced/customized by the airlines and installed by Boeing and others, like Bombardier. It's a lucrative racket if you can meet the documentation and testing requirements without losing your mind.
FAA: Please spell "tested"
Boeing: t e s s - t e d
Boeing: Oh, that's how we used to spell it 30 years ago when you first asked us
FAA: Ah, righto, in that case just keep using the certification from back then, no need to issue you anything new
"pass through" liquids to the floor through drain holes
Despite "no food / no drink" policies, one mid-evening jock on a radio station I worked at managed to spill half a bottle of cider on the controls*. He did the rest of the show with wet trousers as the drain holes were right above his legs. It did put half the desk out of action, but only because sticky cider doesn't really do much good to faders. The actual "electronics" were in a rack-mounted pod safely out of the way.
The switches and pots were sealed, so no problem there and the Penny & Giles conductive plastic faders were easily fixed by dismantling and cleaning with water. IIRC I only had to replace one or two of the wipers, which were probably nearing replacement through normal wear-and-tear anyway.
The biggest problem was that said jock didn't report it at (say) 8pm when it happened, instead he soldiered on with the main mic, two CD players and a couple of other things unusable, leaving it to the next guy to page me in at 10pm.
And the next guy really didn't want to use the "spare" studio - so rather than moving into a non-smelly, fully-working studio the other side of the news booth, he also soldiered on while I dismantled and reassembled one half of the control surface.
Swapping studios was a problem for jocks, for some reason. Yes there was a slightly complicated "offer, accept" set of buttons to push, but the main problem was timing - if there wasn't a second person to press "accept" within the 30 seconds or so after "offer", you had to run between studios to do it yourself. That the studios were quite literally next door to each other didn't make any difference, and I often found myself an unintended part of someone's programme while I dismantled the studio around them. Chris Needs used to do it deliberately, I think, as it gave him plenty of opportunity for innuendo at my expense...
*it was his last live show (he had one more turn on-air, but had already recorded that to tape) so I suppose he thought the rules wouldn't affect him...
Surely, everyone who designs cockpit instrumentation has seen the film "Fate Is the Hunter"? A plane crash is caused by a coffee cup being tipped over the centre console? The spill produced an instrument error that resulted in the pilot making a fatal mistake.
Anyone involved in electronics must consider the operating environment. At the very least the PCB's would be coated in a conformal coating which ought to render them short circuit proof against liquids. And, I would have thought the control switches would be waterproof. Any other gaps in the panel for slider type controls would have brush seals too.
All in all an amazing "fix" to be applying after all these years.
And all those years terrorists who wanted to down an airliner had to find ways to smuggle nefarious devices onboard an aircraft, when all they needed to do was once airborne, ask for a coffee and go and pour it over the cockpit instruments. I do of course mean pre 9/11
While you're being logical, change your thinking to that of a bean counter. Conformal coating costs money...i.e.: profit. Conformal coating, etc. has been pretty much standard for military gear for decades.
As for the sippy cups, they work. I use one in my car. Solid plastic, have open the drinking hole to drink and then close and replace cup in cup holder. That would seem to be a good solution but then again, humans tend to bypass things when it's "inconvenient.
"As for the sippy cups, they work. I use one in my car. Solid plastic, have open the drinking hole to drink and then close and replace cup in cup holder. That would seem to be a good solution but then again, humans tend to bypass things when it's "inconvenient."
Yeah, but you really don't need to take those precautions when drinking a coffee or other beverage in the drivers seat because you're not actually driving at that point. Your're not actually drinking while driving, aren't you?
My understanding is that it's presumptively legal throughout the USA and Canada (at least), but subject to a "distracted driver" caveat. So if you're stopped at a red light, that's very unlikely to be a problem. If you're changing lanes at speed in fog, that might be a different story! (There's also the reality that most north American cops will have been sipping coffee at some point themselves, so even if they could write a ticket, they're unlikely to as a primary cause!)
Hey! That's demeaning of a wonderful technology suitable for people of all ages, not just children.
I regularly used to spill a quarter bottle of malt on my carpet before I bought an adult sippy glass. Paid for itself in a week, plus you can use it with a facemask on.
I've not went for adult diapers/nappies yet but I am wondering how much time I could save on nights out trailing to the toilet. Astronauts use them so they are literally space age tech.
I can't help but think that there has to be a simpler solution.
With other expensive pieces of machinery, there are usually big signs warning against eating/drinking in areas where spillage would be inadvisable.
Yet here you have a $100m+ piece of equipment (potentially with hundreds of passengers also on board) that they accept that the 2 key personnel could well slosh liquid all over the critical electrical controls....
I know that pilots have to eat/drink, but they also (generally) have to leave their seat to visit the toilet, leaving one pilot flying (and presumably during a quiet part of the flight).
From a flight operational perspective, what would be the downside of banning pilots from eating/drinking while seated at the controls?
All the time, I suspect in the case you're referring to they didn't close the forward curtain.
Also only well-intentioned pax are allowed to use the loo by going beyond said curtain. Not sure what magic filter is contained within said curtain but it's been keeping pax safe since 1994!
Eating shouldn't be a problem. You can do that quickly, and in one go, while having a bit of time away from the controls. But coffee and tea are hot, in my experience of flying, coffee is normally served at about 500°C. Though hopefully the pilots are getting the actually drinkable stuff from first class - I only dared the coffee on 6am flights, when the horror of the impending meetings, made death by airline coffee seem the preferable alternative.
But levity aside, the pilots are working in a very dry environment - often for long periods. So while you could easily ban drinking at the controls on short hops - it's not really reasonable to do so on long flights. And it then becomes an interesting problem in safety decision making. You don't want tired pilots, or even thirsty ones. I think it's been pretty well shown that well-hydrated people show better judgement and problem solving. Surely a good thing for pilots. You also don't want shorted controls. But finally you also want both your pilots to be near the controls, in case of emergency. There's often quite a lot to do, and so having 2 people responding in a time critical situation is also important.
Fair point on hydration, definitely but coffee is not necessarily the right choice there (awaiting a study on the comparative electrical damage characteristics of tap water vs. Mineral water vs. Coffee - with/without sugar!).
However, given the degree of risk analysis and mitigation in civil aviation, (e.g. crews timing out due to flying duty hours restrictions, systems redundancy, pilots sober) i am surprised that a more robust solution has not been attempted, as it’s a fairly easy one to mitigate (although maybe introducing the hydration risk you mention).
Pilots will of course never do this on purpose, as I imagine even an incident that does not zap the controls will (ironically) lead to a meeting with the Chief Pilot with neither tea/coffee nor biccies.
I like that idea!
You could call it "More Coffee And Sugar" or MCAS for short. You could have it switch sides on every flight so that the right and left seats get the drinks feed so that one is always hydrated!
If the pilots disagree on this then it empties the drink on the console anyway.
This sounds more to me like an inconvinient temporary fix which allows airlines to continue operating the aircraft, leaving time for liquid-proof panels to be designed, certified, produced and then finally installed as a part of regular scheduled maintenance, rather than as a rushed job with a grounded fleet.
Once these panels are in place, the covers can be removed.
I also find it astonishing that sealed cups aren't mandated on all flight decks. Quite apart from spilling your drink over the avionics there's nothing quite as irritating as finding the cup holder sloshing with an inch of someone else's cold coffee following a turbulence encounter.
I bought my own pretentious reusable cup with a lid and Pret label. Interestingly my previous and suspiciously orange employer simply provided lids for the disposable cups.
Everyone's having a laugh about the drink spills, but cockpit equipment SHOULD be water-resistant. It's life-or-death equipment and a pilot's drink isn't the only possible source of intrusion. There have been a few passenger jets that had their windscreens destroyed/removed in flight for various reason. If it happened to be raining at the time, you'd have quite a bit more than a coffee-cup worth coming in. The cost of improvements is much less than the cost of one accident.
The specific issue here is that the A350 (and the A330, A380, etc) have pull-out keyboards with convenient wrist rests, which unfortunately are great places to put your coffee, which will promptly fall into the central console, which is where the engine controls are. The location Boeing picked for the cupholders on the 777/787 is on the outside (away from the center console) so coffee spills are more likely to wet shoes than mess up the systems, but Airbus can't do that because they keep the primary flying control (the joystick/side-stick controller) in that spot, and dropping coffee in that is probably just as bad (well, nearly, because there's a spare on the other side for the other pilot, which is not true for the center engine controls).
(The Airbus cupholder is more like the pop-out loops than the inverted cylinder, so is more likely to less useful)!
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