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Haywire Coffee Machine Grounds Lufthansa Flight

Cup of coffee on airplane tray table by window, elevated view

The flight had departed from Washington D.C. when the smell of burning alerted the crew that something was not right.

Passengers aboard a Lufthansa flight had quite a scare a couple of weeks ago. The Daily Mail reports that the flight had just departed from Washington D.C. for Munich when a passenger alerted the crew of a burning smell. It turns out that a coffee maker had malfunctioned and would not turn off.

The crew alerted the ground control team that there was an emergency on board ‘due to smoke from a coffee maker, that had overheated and could not be turned off’. The plane was diverted to Boston, where it landed 70 minutes after the emergency situation on board had been declared.

Coffee machines aboard planes can often cause problems for the aircraft because they run from the main electrical circuit rather than separate plug-in devices. If they are not working, it can lead to flight delays while engineers are called in. The Lufthansa aircraft stayed on the ground for another sixteen hours, delaying the flight to Munich by 18 hours total.

A fact sheet from the Flight Safety Foundation says that “[flight crew] training should include diagnosing suspicious malfunctions. A defective switch in the off position may continue to provide electrical power to a heating element.”

A report about the incident said that a coffee pot remained hot after being switched off and smoldering coffee sludge generated fumes that reached the flight deck, prompting declaration of an emergency and evacuation of the aircraft on landing.

[Photo: Travel & Leisure]

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Sabai September 20, 2016

"...coffee pot remained hot after being switched off and smoldering coffee sludge generated fumes..." Any legacy UA flyer would recognize the aroma of Fresh Brew