Recently released details pertaining to an in-flight incident aboard special operations intelligence aircraft last month shows that an exploded can of the energy drink Red Bull resulted in extensive damage to the cockpit systems of the plane, prompting the crew to divert back to base.
An MC-12W Liberty intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft assigned to a subordinate unit within the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command was reportedly flying what was likely a routine training mission in the vicinity of Hurlburt Field in Florida on June 5, 2017 when the incident occurred. Details remain sparse, though a general overview of what occurred in the air has been released thanks to a Freedom of Information Act Request filed by aviation journalist Tyler Rogoway.
Much of the report had been redacted prior to release, however the basic details of the story remained. MC-12W Liberty aircraft are operated with a four person crew — two pilots and two sensor operators. At some point early in the flight, as the aircraft was heading toward its undisclosed “assigned airspace,” the aircraft’s co-pilot, who has not been named, produced a 16 oz. can of Red Bull from his bag. According to the report, the aviator was holding the unopened can when it ruptured, spraying the cabin — and notably the instrumentation — with the carbonated beverage.
“While the MCP used his shirt to absorb what he could, the Mishap Pilot (MP) noticed a faint odor. He subsequently shut down the mission system power, which alleviated the odor.” The report reads.