Airbus develops a cover to protect A350 control panels from spilled drinks

The European aircraft manufacturer, Airbus has developed a removable cover for the central panel in the cockpit of the A350 passenger aircraft. This moisture-proof cover is designed to protect vital systems from accidental liquid spills in the cockpit, after two incidents which preceded uncommanded engine shutdown.

Two incidents occurred with the A350-900 airliners – Delta Air Lines A350 in January and an Asiana A350 last November – during which the engines unexpectedly shut down during the flight. Preliminary results of the incident investigation showed that conflicting commands were received from the central panel located between the pilots before turning off the engines. It turned out that in both cases, the pilots accidentally spilled drinks on the central panels, causing the contacts of the controls located on them to close.

According to the requirements of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the cover should not be installed on the central panel throughout the flight. The removable covers protect the aircraft’s cockpit center panels but must be removed during critical flight phases, including take-off, approach, and landing, since it completely covers a part of the controls of the central panel. During the cruise flight along the route, when most of the controls on the central panel are not used, the cover should be installed.

Airbus initially introduced a temporary revision to the aircraft flight manual, which defined a ‘liquid prohibited’ zone in the cockpit. But, according to Flightglobal, the airframer has since developed the removable cover which EASA is instructing A350 operators to fit within 28 days. The agency’s claim for the use of the cover is also temporary.

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